Released on July 17, 2015, The Chemical Brothers’ eighth studio album, Born In The Echoes, followed 2010’s dancefloor-filling of Further and the duo’s first full soundtrack, the following year’s Hanna. Featuring a ton of guests, and memories, it also provided Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons with yet another chart-smashing bonanza.
Born In The Echoes kicks off with the single “Sometimes I Feel So Deserted,” which utilizes the services of ex-One True Voice vocalist Daniel Pearce and which, as with many of the group’s hits, was also part of their Electronic Battle Weapon dancefloor series; the track further benefitted from a slow-building remix by high-profile post-dubstep producer Skream.
Pearce, meanwhile, had become a regular frontman for dance records, and thus started the album’s “echoes” theme off nicely, the Chems clearly referencing their history of plundering from (and otherwise revising) history – a theme which they had shown interest in all the way back to their degrees at The University Of Manchester. The slightly disturbing video for the single began their productive relationship with Ninian Doff as well.
Another single follows, in the form of the peppy, bass-heavy, electroid “Go,” which features the widescreen return of the New York-born Golden Age rapper Q-Tip (from A Tribe Called Quest), who had previously hosted the Chems’ hit 2004 single “Galvanize.” The typically stylish Michel Gondry video didn’t hurt the track, either. Further single “Under Neon Lights” is fronted by the wispy, reflective, Cocteau Twins-esque vocals of indie darling Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent. An appropriately neon-filled, 20th-century-vibed rush of a video was created for the track by director Adam Smith, while the track also inspired the first-ever virtual reality video made on the web, by creative mastermind Zach Richter.
Looking to the future
The riddling, twitching, big-room vintage synth hymn “EML Ritual” is next, bringing back Ali Love – as heard on the Chems’ 2007’s album, We Are The Night – to lose his mind, and to open up an extended segment of pounding grooves. The group’s ongoing late 60s psych influence re-emerges on “I’ll See You There,” which finds the echo itself (some hip vintage poetry) looking to the future.
The punishing, 90s rave exclamation-fuelled bleepy electro-techno of “Just Bang” is right on its heels, and, as ever with the Chems, blends eras of popular music into one whole. The blinking, teetering, growling techno of “Reflexion” then completes this suite, before stepping down into the relatively brief, buzzing, downtempo interlude “Taste Of Honey,” which has vocals from Chenai Zinyuku (who later worked with Cassius and Gorgon City) and Stephanie Dosen.
Return once more
The elegantly sliding title track merges Cate Le Bon and some cavernous, guttural synths, before the overloaded, beacon-like “Radiate” flashes out into the darkness, and the gentle single “Wide Open” finishes the album with a poignant, undervalued Balearic Beck house vocal: a slow-burning future rare-groover.
Born In the Echoes’ artwork sticks to the echoes theme, being clipped from a 19th-century fabric pattern, with caricatures of Rowlands and Simons appearing to pop out from among sound waves. We are all born in the echoes, and in the wake of The Chemical Brothers’ great 2019 follow-up, No Geography, now is a good time to return to them once more.