The debut effort from the big boys of big beats, The Chemical Brothers, Exit Planet Dust was released in 1995 to a wave of critical acclaim that carried the duo to mass recognition after establishing an underground career remixing the likes of Primal Scream and Manic Street Preachers. This past is referenced in the title, this being their first release since having to change their name from The Dust Brothers after legal action from the production team they drew inspiration from.
|They’re walking back from a party where
this album literally blew their faces off
In spite of being a debut album it is an incredibly assured piece of work, their confidence in their sound pulses through the album, this is an intricately woven mix of electronica and funk handled with masterful timing and poise, hinting at the kind of sublimely measured tempo and flow exemplified on tracks like Private Psychyedelic Reel from their next album.
Whilst Planet Dust never quite breaches those heady heights it grazes them on a few occasions, this is an album that is every bit as consistently cool and loaded with some seriously bombastic tunes. If i could dance i’d dance to this. I’d dance the shit out of this. Few are the albums that contain this kind of raw, relentess pace and energy, pounding out molten layers of synth and backed up by percussion that puts Bonham to shame. This is an album that demands your attention and demands to be played loud, it’s just the only way.
Right from the off it sets off at a rollercoaster pace, one arguably even more intense than Dig Your Own Hole, the first three tracks are a blur of sound, seemingly taken straight from the flashing lights and drug-fuelled march of a club. The album captures the spirit of a club and condenses it into five minutes sections of furious noise. It is that intense.
It’s a shame then that some of this intensity and pace dies off during the middle of the album, even some of the beats become oddly repetitive and drawn out as it transforms into an at times more ambient, reserved, airy sound than the proclamation of party that opens up proceedings. The super-charged instrumentals make way for more straight up ‘songs’ They seem to almost take their foot off the accelerator, the beats are less big and the sound less defiantly anthemic. It’s still a class above their competitors and songs like One Too Mornings, although somewhat out of place with the first half, are still superb. It’s just that whereas you might blast the opening from your speakers as loud as possible, you’re more likely to stick on some headphones and relax and reflect with these. It’s a strange transition. The album closer, and still one of the highlights, Alive and Alone sees them call out ‘I’m alive, I’m alone and I never wanted to be either of those’, a refrain that’s strangely subdued and almost morbid compared to the uninhibited passion of earlier.
An opening 20 minutes that ranks with the best of the decade never mind genre, followed by a brief lapse and then a return to form, albeit in a slightly out of place fashion. It’s not perfect but at times it doesn’t even matter, you’re too busy being swept under by the unrestrained fury of their sound or carried by their surprising mellowness, even if that’s not what you signed up for.