Dig Your Own Hole - Chemical Brothers (The)

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Dig Your Own Hole - Chemical Brothers (The)

1 CD(s) - Trip Hop / Big Beat - Label: Freestyle Dust - Distributor: EMI Operations/CEVA Logistics - Released: 07/04/1997, 04/1997 - 724384295028

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Review of "Dig Your Own Hole - Chemical Brothers (The)"

published 09/11/2000 | ronniec
Member since : 03/11/2000
Reviews : 60
Members who trust : 14
About me :
Pro Rawer, harder dance sound than recent work.
Cons At least three or four quite weak tracks.
very helpful
Quality and consistency of tracks
Cover / Inlay Design and Content
How does it compare to the artist's other releases

"Give me another one of those..."

Most groups find that they suddenly stumble upon success. Be it a breakthrough single that makes all their follow-up dross seem somehow better - see Moloko - or an album with three or four inspired moments that drew NME's attention - see Finley Quaye - the net effect is the same, a gradual decline into obscurity.

The Chemical Brothers followed a slightly different path. Their first major album, Exit Planet Dust, drew critical acclaim but never the widespread attention it deserved. Then they released this follow-up EP, and the fair-weather plaudits soon began to heap praise upon them. You know the score - Q magazine "tips" them as the next big thing, readers of NME write in saying they're not as good as the Stones, that kind of thing. The key difference is that since this album, the Chemicals have only progressed onto even better things.

Regardless, Dig Your Own Hole is quite feasibly one of the top three or four dance albums of the last ten years. At its time of release, I would say it was at the pinnacle of its genre, although most would agree it has since been surpassed by its follow-up, Surrender. The closest comparison of recent years is between the Chemicals of this album, and the Prodigy style of 1996. Surrender is not as hard edged as this album, which at times is very much a techno-dominated piece.

This change is probably more to do with their growing experience in post-production and sampling. Exit Planet Dust, their first album, was much harder to get into and quite roughly produced by comparison to this second offering. By the time they had made Surrender, the production was obviously far more professional and the sound smoother. The result is a curious blend of manicured album fillers (Lost In The K-Hole) and chipped efforts (Piku).

Being the launchpad for their career, it is no surprise that there are a number of well-known tracks included on the album. Perhaps the most famous is Block Rockin' Beats, with its whooping chorus and deep synthed-up beat. Even if you don't know this track by name, you've probably heard it a million times sampled into programmes (cut to scene of Clarkson in sexy car flashing past, play tune). The video for this track is in itself a masterpiece, featuring a number of well-known figures, although it is surpassed by the track itself. For me this was really the beginning of the Chemicals' trademark build-ups into huge beats.

There are only two particularly well-known tracks on the album, the other being Setting Sun, which features vocals by Noel Gallagher. Of the two tracks Gallagher would work on with the Chemicals (the latter being Let Forever Be, on Surrender), this is in my opinion the better. The lyrics are not actually all that bad, which is an exeption for a group not famed for their poetic dabblings. Try listening to this track past the sound and you might like it more than you once did. Cynics would say the song is only present to draw attention to the Chemicals from a wider audience, and there is a case for that argument, but it has value in its own right.

The final highlight of the album is a little-known filler, Lost In The K-Hole. Featuring vocals from Bobby Gillespie (so I am told, although they are heavily disguised), it's a simple, straight-forward track that doesn't pretend to be anything other than it is. The beat is immediately catchy and almost makes you smile purely on the comic strength of it. After a while of the insanely pleasant beat that just makes you want to dance like a fool, the track breaks into a synth chorus that defies description. I do believe I have never encountered anyone who finds this track as enjoyable as I do, but it remains a highlight nonetheless - well worth 30p on a jukebox at the least.

These three tracks aside, the album follows a similar pattern throughout. Their sound is unique in the repetitive and tiresome world of dance music, but the closest comparisons are with Prodigy, Orbital and Leftfield, the latter most closely. At times the sound on this album is almost akin to old rave music, becoming rapidly irksome if you are not pumped up with Es and whizz. I am a fan of their music but it has to be said that not everyone will love this album throughout. It is schizophrenic at times, moving from chart-grade dance to simple loop-based fillers.

Most interesting as a showcase for their sampling skills, Dig Your Own Hole really marks the intermediate stage in their progression from clubland DJ favourites to top ten single pimps. If the slightly cheesy chart tunes of more recent years are not entirely to your taste, you may find that this album is perfect. It is darker, harder and more adrenaline-fuelled, an album well worth owning purely for the three or four stand-out tracks.

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Comments on this review

  • TazGreen published 01/10/2005
    Good review, set me straight on the fact I shouldn't buy the album, thanks!
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Product Information : Dig Your Own Hole - Chemical Brothers (The)

Manufacturer's product description

1 CD(s) - Trip Hop / Big Beat - Label: Freestyle Dust - Distributor: EMI Operations/CEVA Logistics - Released: 07/04/1997, 04/1997 - 724384295028

Product Details

EAN: 724384295028


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