The Chemical Brothers: No Geography (Astralwerks) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine

The Chemical Brothers

No Geography

Astralwerks

Apr 22, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Attention, entire electronic dance music landscape, please take note. The old English chaps, Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons (aka The Chemical Brothers), have returned to enamour us with their sonic orgasms. 

No Geography, the duo's ninth full-length over 25 years, is a seamless mix that throws in everything plus the kitchen sink. Rave music doesn't have to be a fad or in the stream of the mainit just has to feel goodand who is going to do it better than The Chemical Brothers?

The Chemical Bros' timeless bangers and fresh soundscapes move from one ear to the other ear; a vivid trail through the brain. There's an array of vocal parts throughout No Geography, and not one is out of place. Add robotics, surgery, yesteryear, bells, urgent bass, dance moves, lasers, random commotion, and some ice, and we're presented with a excellent EDM album that resets the genre.

The Chemical Brothers are popular enough to pack stadiums, but they also live under the surface at the same time; they don't go out of their way to beat you over the head with marketing. And they average about three years per album release. The Chem Brothers have won plenty of awards (four Grammys, Brit Award for Best Dance Act, a Q Award for Best Album), scored an amazing soundtrack for an amazing film (Hanna), but are inspired by the elementary braveness of Kraftwerk and post-punk. And psychedelic visuals are an important piece of The Chemical Brothers' work, as evidenced by their live shows or any music videosso far there are three videos for No Geography ("MAH," "Got to Keep On," and "Free Yourself") that range from a mysterious madman in a mask, to an army of dancing AI robots.

Calling No Geography a proper album is debatable; it is more like a mixtape of manipulation. Most of the tracks fall into the next, for example the hand drum ending of opener "Eve of Destruction" into "Bango," which eventually has a snippet of a steel drum in a black hole, some brass, and a fluttery feeling. "Got to Keep On" induces instant shoulder movement ("gotta keep on making me high"), and the sick pulse of "Gravity Drops" confirms that a beat can act as an automatic rifle. "The Universe Sent Me," with well-fitting vocals from AUROA (the Norwegian singer, full name Aurora Aksnes, is on two other tracks), is, indeed, its own universe, and "MAH" is a cyclone of instrumentation.

It has been four years since the last Chemical Brothers album, Born in the Echoes, which is plenty of time for a whole music scene to change; Simons and Rowlands went for perfection, and set a mark with No Geography. We'll see what happens now. (www.thechemicalbrothers.com)        

Author rating: 8.5/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10



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