Chase and Status – Brand New Machine (5/5)
Chase and Status are back with their third album Brand New Machine and they’ll be hoping to make a distinctly different impression to last time out.
In 2011, they caused controversy for fans and critics alike as they shied away from their original drum and bass style with their album No More Idols. However, this time, the London duo have hit back in a new and very different direction. On this occasion, prepare to be transported back to the 90s as Saul Milton (Chase) and Will Kennard (Status) take us through the sounds that inspired them to start making music. Their influences range from The Prodigy to East Coast Hip Hop and immediately from pressing play on the album, opener ‘Gun Metal Grey’ makes the Hip Hop influence clear. Pusha T collaboration ‘Machine Gun’ and ‘Gangsta Boogie’ featuring Knytro extend this theme but there is more to this record than that. Brand New Machine is undeniably an album of variety as it drifts into an electronic reggae sound in ‘International’ and there is a nod to the 90s pop era with ‘Deeper Devotion’.
Their range and diversity is im- pressive but the most distinct theme is the consistent collaboration with a wave of new and exciting artists. In particular they welcome Jacob Banks who features on the track ‘Alive’ and Louis Mttrs who features on the first release ‘Lost and Not Found’.
As might be expected, an album with such an assortment of influences as this one, is bound to produce some hits as well as misses. If fans of Chase and Status were hoping for an album rooted entirely in their original liquid drum and bass sounds, then they won’t be best pleased. But hopefully it contains a little something for everyone along the way.
Danny Brown – Old (4/5)
Context is everything. Be it at a stage in our lives, the state of our minds, or the order of tracks on an album, the circumstances under which we encounter something can drastically alter our perception of it. Danny Brown’s debut release is a synthesis of all three.
The album is presented as two “sides” and of the two, B is probably the more instantly likeable as it is most definitely the “fun” side. Where Side A helps frame the record with Brown recalling a past of poverty, dope and vio- lence, Side B is a much deserved hedonistic thirty minutes of rapping about MDMA, kush and vagina. In lesser hands the sheer contrast would be jarring and might have made for a disjointed listen but it works and elevates both parts of the record as a result. He even warns us, twice, that this could be the case although, given how unified the production feels, the warnings are almost an unnecessary gesture.
The beats on Side B are appropriate to its subject matter and revel in the excesses of maximalism. They contain some of the most legitimately unhinged production since Rustie’s Glass Swords but, of course, the impact would be somewhat lessened if not for the more restrained first side. Each half of this album necessitates the other. Context is everything.
Gary Numan – Splinter (2/5)
His 17th studio album, Splinter sees original goth and former Tubeway Army soldier Gary Numan continue to exercise the dark, angst-ridden rocktronica he’s peddled so insistently this side of the year 2000. A far cry from the strutting, metallic synth-pop genius of classic works such as The Pleasure Principle, it’s an extremely homogenous listen.
Opener ‘I am Dust’, with its distorted guitars and Numan’s lamentations of a “world of grim obsession”, sets the scene for much of what follows. Tracks are littered with choruses built on foundations of wholly unwar- ranted euphoria, cheap and cheesy mid-range synth sounds and a generally contrived and theatrical sentiment that’s less dark, dystopian fear and more Limp Bizkit meets The Matrix.
Indeed, a certain angry- teenager, nu-metal aesthetic pervades tracks such as ‘The Calling’ and the particularly trite ‘Love Hurt Bleed’ with its overblown EDM modulations and undercooked harmonies. Some respite is offered by way of Numan’s vocal delivery, which – aside from a few mis-steps here and there – really hits the spot.
The piano led ‘Lost’ is arguably the album’s highpoint – its relative minimalism and plaintive chords providing a stark but entirely welcome contrast. Stylistically speaking, the degree to which Splinter fails to diverge from Numan’s recent out- put suggests that dedicated fans will lap it all up regardless but new listeners after an album that is fresh, vital and gripping would be best off looking elsewhere.