Let”s take a survey: Is electronic music blessed by its increasing number of sub genres? Or do they curse it? Well, the answer depends does the new genre aid in categorizing an artist who is unique? Or is that new genre name (something along the lines of Euro-Disco-Trip-Tech-Ambient-Progressive-House-Trance) merely a fad naming-scheme to help make a particular artist more interesting? The Chemical Brothers, composed of partners Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons, have always managed to occupy a unique musical niche, thus avoiding the trendy naming phenomenon. While we could say The Chemical Brothers are “psychedelic funk house,” the genre is one that seems catered to them specifically, not a manufactured record label attempt at “cool.” The Brothers” breakthrough release, Dig Your Own Hole was both a commercial and critical success, yet, their follow-up Surrender, while acclaimed, did not appeal to the same pop-culture, big beat success that had characterized Hole.
Come With Us combines the best of the two previous albums into a successful mix. The big beat that brought The Chemical Brothers fame is still rocking the show, but some of the restrained aspects of Surrender are there to balance things out. If DJ”s who use samples are like northern European artists, then Rowlands and Simons are most certainly Dutch Masters sitting at the top of their craft like a pair of DJ Rembrandts, applying strange sounds and voices like strokes of oil paint to canvas. “It Began in Afrika” hums with droning house beats, screeching wildcats and tribal drums. You almost feel like you should break out the pith helmet and start searching for Dr. Livingston. The characteristic ferocity and high-energy levels well known to fans of Dig Your Own Hole are here as well on “Come With Us,” a track with a dramatic build up and “Denmark,” which blends a psuedo-disco sound with dark atmosphere.
The Chemical Brothers show us what they”ve learned from previous albums like Surrender with their lean towards dreamier psychedelic surfaces. The subdued “The State We”re In” features a collaboration with fellow Astralwerks label-mate Beth Orton, and “Hoops” is a chilled journey through psychedelic house. Along with Orton, Richard Ashcroft also makes an appearance on “The Test.” Unfortunately, only on these vocal tracks does the album fall short. They seem like an anticlimactic ending to what is otherwise a solid buildup. But Come With Us still flows as a whole album working the emotional highs and come-down lows expected more from Trance DJ”s like Sasha and Digweed or Paul Van Dyk. However, The Chemical Brothers are a unique animal they resist the anonymity that so often plagues electronic music with their fresh take on sampling, psychedelica, and their funk-influenced house. We should bask in the glow of this Chemical Brother”s Renaissance, but also take it with a grain of salt.