Dig Your Own Hole

Dig Your Own Hole

For a short, glorious period in the 1990s, big beat ruled Britain. And The Chemical Brothers—a Manchester duo consisting Ed Simons and Tom Rowlands—were one of the sound’s most successful ambassadors, rapidly looping breakbeats, synths, and samples into a solid wall of pulsing sound that provided a backing track for England’s endless raves and festivals. The Chemicals spent much of the early 1990s working as DJs on the club circuit, where the two dubbed themselves “the Dust Brothers”—an homage to a US production duo of the same name, best known then for working with the Beastie Boys. (You can hear that American influence all over The Chemical Brothers’ work: The guitar licks looped over hip-hop beats; the left-field samples tweaked beyond recognition.) By 1994, Simons and Rowlands had become resident DJs at Heavenly Sunday Social Club, a hugely influential watering hole in London's Britpop and indie-rock scene. Oasis' Noel Gallagher and The Jam's Paul Weller were regulars, and the proximity to some of England's heavy hitters helped The Chemical Brothers develop both a sound and an audience. But it wasn’t until the duo’s sophomore album, 1997’s Dig Your Own Hole, that Simons and Rowlands established themselves as one of big beat’s most vital acts. This is a record that defined a sound—and an era: The album’s opener, “Block Rockin’ Beats,” charted globally when it was released as a single, and the rest of Dig Your Own Hole bounds gleefully between jazzy downtempo (“Piku,” “Lost In the K-Hole”) and rave-ready club jams (“Elektrobank,” “Don’t Stop the Rock”). Dig Your Own Hole won The Chemical Brothers a Grammy and went to the top of the charts in the UK, putting the duo—and their beloved big beat—on the top of the world.

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