Review Summary: You wanna take your brains to another dimension?
Let’s turn back the clocks all the way until the year of 1992. Before the government decided to clamp down on the whole rave scene, before artists were forced underground, devoid of any options to release their music to an audience. Back then the rave circuit was a happy and relaxed place, artists and fans alike caught in their day glo drenched world of open air festivals and laid back vibes. Nightclubs, awash in neon, pumped all night long with whatever particular group or artist happened to be the favorite flavor at the time. Hundreds gathered out in fields, huddled together to combat the conditions, waiting for artists to arrive and set up for the coming weekend’s festivities. All day and night music would blast out over the fields, enticing faraway travelers, beckoning them in the night, a sonic light post that shone through the dark. And they would come, with whatever they could carry; they would come in droves, just to obtain their little piece of release from their weekly burdens. Considered one of the most productive and friendly times in the development of ‘electronic’ music, this was the very setting that gave birth to The Prodigy. Far from the distinct style that they are known for today, this was an era that saw the band firmly entrenching themselves in their musical surroundings. Before they would be rudely uplifted and sent packing by government laws, The Prodigy laid down one of the most influential albums to ever be released in the early rave scene. This is their humble beginning, this is their Experience
This is an album that would come to be recognized as the flag bearer of its generation. A precursor to the Breakbeat genre, there’s just so much going on in this album that, at times, it almost becomes hard to nail down one particular groove. It contains an unbridled energetic quality that is rarely heard or felt in today’s modern music scene, be it any genre at all. Liam Howlett was, upon release, quickly and loudly proclaimed an almost modern messiah within the rave circuit, and for obvious reasons; at the time of this release there just wasn’t another record floating around that contained anything close to the skill and beats that Liam had injected into Experience. This was rave, but not like anything that had been heard before. While every track follows the same basic template every song is given its distinct sound and vibe. ‘Jericho’ twists and turns through its acid tinged head trip, constantly pumping out wave after wave of pounding adrenaline. ‘Your Love’ with it’s focus on piano arrangements, and ‘Music Reach [1/2/3/4]’ with it’s almost family friendly vibes are a sonic delight, conjuring up images of open green plains populated by barefoot audio travelers; these songs don’t just sink into your head, they put you in the world they belong in, a world of wall to wall speakers and mists of hazy smoke.
The raver’s anthem ‘Out Of Space’ remains incredible to this day. With its trademark sample (I Chase the Devil by Max Romeo) and mind looping beats, it’s a song that sticks out from the pack, and remains their most popular song from this early period. With its classic rave synth lines and hints of Breakbeat it literally cries for attention, and will remain in your presence for days on end. ‘Weather Experience’ is a juggernaut of a song, a veritable tour de force of sonic emotions. From its peaceful beginnings (that include snippets of actual weather broadcasts), to its trip hop inspired beats right through to its mind melting crescendo it truly runs the entire field of genres and yet never feels out of place, the whole song plays out like a mini gig. And yet as the song finally draws to a close, the next track begins without skipping a beat. The party just keeps on going.
While The Prodigy would almost give up on this sound for more progressive leanings and punk rock aesthetics on their future releases this still remains an essential album in their catalogue, and one that even a casual fan should definitely look into. It’s chaotic, frenzied, assaulting and distorting all at the same time. A true Experience
that needs to be heard, endured and relished, and then experienced all over again.
On June 19th 2001, The Prodigy re-released Experience
as a special edition under the name of Experience Expanded: Remixes & B- Sides
. As well as remastering the entire album (it does sound a hell of a lot better) included is an entire 2nd disc of remixes and b- sides (funny that).
Featured in amongst the rarities is the much more well known cut of ‘Charly’, the Alley Cat remix. Both ‘Weather Experience’ and ‘Everybody in the Place’ are given adequate remixes as well, and non album tracks ‘Crazy Man’ and ‘Android’ make their full length debut. While not adding a significant amount to the overall album, the 2nd disc and the remastering are definitely welcome additions to an already amazing album and will serve any longtime fan admirably.