The Chemical Brothers
About The Chemical Brothers
Electronic music’s '90s glory days played out differently in the UK and the US, but The Chemical Brothers are one of the few acts of the era whose influence was equally weighty on both sides of the Atlantic. The Manchester duo of Ed Simons and Tom Rowlands came up in the Wild West of rave’s early years, pressing up white-label 12-inches (“Song to the Siren”, an early underground hit, made breakbeat mayhem out of This Mortal Coil) and remixing acts like The Prodigy. They were also eager students of Public Enemy’s potent, rugged approach behind the boards, which might help explain why their debut album, 1995’s Exit Planet Dust, was one of the first examples of British electronic dance music to captivate American ears. One listen to the gargantuan drums, synths and sample play of signature tunes like “Chemical Beats” and “Block Rockin’ Beats” shows how thoroughly they integrated rock, rave and hip-hop, but they quickly moved beyond the sound called “big beat”. By 1999’s Surrender (which featured the unhinged hip-house smash “Hey Boy Hey Girl”), they’d begun giving free rein to their psych- and alt-rock leanings, dipping into hippie pastoralism on “The Sunshine Underground” and recruiting Mazzy Star's Hope Sandoval, New Order's Bernard Sumner and even Oasis' Noel Gallagher for guest vocals. They’ve remained one of electronic music’s most consistently adventurous big-ticket acts, their output bouncing between throwback party jams (“Go”), quirky pop (“The Salmon Dance”), underground club fare (the “Electronic Battle Weapon” series) and even soundtracks (2011’s Hanna). In the process, they’ve become something few of early rave’s bootlegging beatmakers ever dreamed of being: a bona fide institution.