The Chemical Brothers
The act with the first arena-sized sound in the electronica movement, the Chemical Brothers united such varying influences as Public Enemy, Cabaret Voltaire and My Bloody Valentine to create a dance-rock-rap fusion which rivalled the best old-school DJs on their own terms — keeping a crowd of people on the floor by working through any number of groove-oriented styles featuring unmissable samples, from familiar guitar riffs to vocal tags to various sound effects. And when the duo (Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons) decided to supplement their DJ careers by turning their bedrooms into recording studios, they pioneered a style of music (later termed big beat) remarkable for its lack of energy-loss from the dancefloor to the radio. Chemical Brothers albums were less collections of songs and more hour-long journeys, chock full of deep bomb-studded beats, percussive breakdowns and effects borrowed from a host of sources. All in all, the duo proved one of the few exceptions to the rule that intelligent dance music could never be bombastic or truly satisying to the seasoned rock fan; it’s hardly surprising that they were one of the few dance acts to enjoy simultaneous success in the British/American mainstream and in critical quarters.
While growing up, both Rowlands and Simons grooved to an eccentric musical diet, ranging from the Smiths and Jesus & Mary Chain to Kraftwerk and Public Enemy. They met while taking the same history course at Manchester University, though neither were native Mancunians — Rowlands enrolled because of the legendary Haçienda nightclub nearby, while Simons acknowledged the city as birthplace to the Smiths and New Order. The pair began sampling Madchester’s vibrant nightclub scene together during 1989 and 1990, just at the peak of Britain’s fascination with a DJing style named Balearic. Pioneered at the island hotspot of Ibiza during the mid-’80s, Balearic relied on a blend of early house music, Italian disco, rare-groove jazz and funk, Northern soul, hip-hop and alternative dance. Original Balearic DJs like Trevor Fung, Paul Oakenfold and Mike Pickering brought the sound back to indie-clubs in London and Manchester, and the style proved very attractive to musical eclectics like Rowlands and Simons.
Though Rowlands was already performing in the alternative-dance group Ariel, the pair began DJing together at the Manchester club Naked Under Leather in 1991. Hardly believing that their weekend project would progress, they took the semi-serious handle Dust Brothers (a tribute to the American production team responsible for one of their favorite albums, the Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique). Despite their doubts, Rowlands and Simons’ club night did grow more popular, thanks to the duo’s Balearic mix of rare house tracks flavored with hip-hop breakdowns, independent-dance fusions and ancient second-hand discards. After deciding to try and re-create their unique sound in their tiny bedroom studio, the Dust Brothers emerged with “Song to the Siren,” an intriguing example of the new alternative dance scene including sample-victims Meat Beat Manifesto and This Mortal Coil.
After the single was pressed up on a limited release of 500 copies, it began getting attention from Britain’s top DJs, initially including an old friend named Justin Robertson but later including Andrew Weatherall and Darren Emerson. Weatherall licensed the single to Junior Boy’s Own Records, and after the pair had finished university, they moved back to London to work on another EP (14th Century Sky) and a residency at another club. After their third release, “My Mercury Mouth,” the duo began to get more high-profile clients for remixing: besides Justin Roberston’s Lionrock collective, Primal Scream, Prodigy and the Charlatans all received treatments.
The Chemical Brothers – Live at Electric Proms Camden 25-10-2007
Chemical Brothers – Live at Sesiones Replicantes on Radio3 20-10-2007
Chemical Brothers – Live at Hammerstein Ballroom, NYC 21-09-2007 (Part1)
Chemical Brothers – Live at Hammerstein Ballroom, NYC 21-09-2007 (Part2)
Chemical Brothers – Featured at Pete Tongs In Music We Trust 13-09-2007
Chemical Brothers – Live at Zenith, Munich 03-07-2007 (Part1)
Chemical Brothers – Live at Zenith, Munich 03-07-2007 (Part2)
The Chemical Brothers – Live at Glastonbury Festival 24-06-2007
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