FDF Volume 3 Issue 216: Chemical Brothers - Dig your Own Hole
Album - Dig Your Own Hole
Artist - The Chemical Brothers
Key Players - Tom Rowlands, Ed Simons - keyboards, synths, bleeps and bloops.
Produced By - The Chemical Brothers
Release Date - April 7, 1997
What caused me to blow off the dust? - I am not really sure. I got in to a quick phase with this band where I wanted all their stuff and the re-mix records etc, but that lasted inside six months. I can't really listen to a full album for this style of music very often either. Its been a bit.
Overview - British based electronica duo Chemical Brothers released this, their second full length, to wide critical and popular acclaim. Released when techno/dance was working on another resurgence the band blended deep grooves while avoiding many samples that are, or were, used by rap artists. In 1998, Q magazine readers voted Dig Your Own Hole the 49th greatest album of all time. In 2000, the same magazine placed it at number 42 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever.
FDF Comments (aka the songs) - The keyboards start with a deep drone before a deep grooved bass run starts. "Block Rockin' Beats" kicks it up a notch. Samples taken from the Schooly D track "Gucci Again" the duo locks in to a loop with the bass and keeping on the same melody only shifting up an oactive. After a bit a harder "scratched" portion begins. The beats per minute remain quite constant and the the bass breakdown comes back in to focus at the 2:30 mark before the keyboards change directions with a deeper tone. The title track, "Dig Your Own Hole", follows and the the first sample is a deep looped portion. The duo uses heavy bass, but not just on the downbeats. It seems to be a constant with the downbeats filled with other samples. Ali Friend is credited as playing "Fuzz Bass" on the track, and the "live" bass adds a strong touch. The dance party rolls on with referee whistles blasting over and the keyboards take a shimmering vibe before rolling back to the main melody. The track "Elektobank" starts without any gap. The only indication is a spoken introduction. The vocal introduction was taken from a live recording of Kool Herc from 1996. This has a more focused, harder techno drive to it. Samples phase from speaker to speaker but the underlying BPM is really starting to push them forward. There is a second vocal sample used. Its is from Keith Murray and it is repeated over and over at a machine gun like pace. With a few "explosions' placed in the sample the track begins to slow. The drum tempo slows down a great deal but comes back up as a fuzzy bass section takes over. We fade again right to "Piku". The subtle tones underneath keep the tracks blending together nicely. The beat on this track still has some heavy bottom, but its a little more playful at the same time. A scratchy record seems to play over the track as heavy keyboard runs swoop from right to left. One of the bigger tracks from the album comes in "Setting Sun". The first track that features "lead" vocals were done by Noel Gallagher (Oasis). (We looked at "Be Here Now" in the past.) Starting with what sounds like a deep "sitar" loop the music comes at you from all sides. Some of the downbeats seem very similar to the tones that the Prodigy used on "Fat of the Land". The screaming keyboard runs give it a great haunting feel. Still one of the bands "go to" tracks. Hi-hat cymbals click of "It Doesn't Matter" (realize they are keyboard based but just got with it okay?) Most of the stuff on this record feels "the same" but for some reason this one really seems to find its vibe and it sticks to it. The loop gets old and there is little variation to it. "Don't Stop the Rock" has a fun sounding 70's keyboard that blips over the heavier back beat. There is a few re-mix versions of this song that are all very strong. The blippy sounding loop locks with the deeper tempo as few other keyboard fills work their way in to the mix. After about 2 minutes though this bleepy keyboards will have you reaching for the skip button, yeah it gets to you that fast. Rolling on E at an outdoor summer festival might be one thing, but stone cold sober you'd be pretty close to killing yourself. "Get up on it like this" is a little more focused with Latin sounding drum beats and a tighter. There is more of street feel to the track with the more focused tempos. A good change from the prior track. The band uses a live bassist again on "Lost in the K-hole". This time it is credited to "Seggs" and they call it "acid bass". The bass lines are more "bent" at the start and then the fills start to sound a little like the bass players tones used in the early 80's goth recordings. The bass has some simple backing track and a spoken word vocal over dub. The second track that has full lead vocals comes in "Where do I begin". Beth Orton take the lead on this track. (We looked at "Trailer Park" some time ago.) The samples and fills are pushed to the background and Orton shines with her fair/wavering voice. It is not until the latter part of the song does it get a little more of the "techno" feel to it. The keyboards and samples are more fill than focus. The album concludes with the track "The Private Psychedelic Reel". This is a quieter song, at the start at least, than anything one the record. One keyboard plays a sequence while a second guitar/sitar hybrid begins to swell under the progression. The track kicks in to a little more high gear about the 2 minute mark and sits tight on its loop. This continues and the band works in some phase and fading techniques so the headphones will get a workout on this one. The track continues with the Indian feel and the loops are a little infectious honestly. A strong album closer.
Where are they now? - The Chemical Brothers are still active. They are on tour now (or very soon) and have a sound track score due in April 2011 for the film "Hanna"
FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - I've never seen the band live.
FDF Overall Take - A good friend of mine always said about this record "I don't think I could ever listen to a full record of techno music, but this about as close as I could get". There are some really strong moments on this record and others that will drive you (well they did for me) to lean to the skip/fast forward button. It is the nature of the genre. How complex can it really get. If I wanted to get a party moving I could toss a track or two on from this record and it would do the trick.
Official band page here as well as
Curious? Check out some MUSIC!
Block Rockin' Beat *Spys Remix
The Private Psychedelic Reel
The album is still easy to find. You can start here.
Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.