Wednesday, December 20, 2000

Slay that punky music

Posted By on Wed, Dec 20, 2000 at 12:00 AM

The Brothers Chemical (aka Tom and Ed) have, er, come a long, long way, baby. They’ve had to prove that they were more than just the archetypal purveyors of big beat and distance themselves from the ever-dumber (or is it more dumb?) dance-floor crowd that jumped on the bandwagon after they completed the first successful rock-electro hybrid. They distanced themselves in an odd way, too, by turning out the more house- and electro-inflected album, Surrender, which on the surface may have seemed like a departure from their more densely sampladelic days toward streamlined compositions and fluid mixology. But the core, a love of digging in the crates and blowing minds and soles, remains crucial to the Chemical mix.

Music: Response — an EP featuring the original single version of the “Surrender” cut, two previously unreleased (in this country, anyway) remixes of it, two live tracks and two outtakes from the “Surrender” sessions — finds Tom and Ed doing just that, laying their love of the groove on the line.

Clocking in at nearly 45 minutes, each of the cuts has a 12-inch worth of room to spread out. The standout tracks are, interestingly, the outtakes — “Freak of the Week” and “Enjoyed.” “Enjoyed” leans toward the electro side of the fence and, at one point, manages the neat trick of conjuring the “what-if” notion of Kraftwerk dueting with Tuvan throat singers. “Freak of the Week” is a layered, live-and-sampled (I think) percussion dream, a Gene Krupa workout for the 808 nation. The Chems let the tracks spread out and breathe, but, as ever, they never lose sight or smell of their audience.

They opt to keep the songs not only just within the attention span of the average rocker, but also within recognizable compositional confines. (Hey, they may be samples, but they’re also verses and choruses, too, eh?) This EP from these crossover musical hedonists, though only a stopgap commercially, is more a reminder of the duo’s potency than anything else is. Let it spin and you’ll be reminded.

E-mail Chris Handyside at


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