The Chemical Brothers
Dig Your Own Hole


5.0
classic

Review

by Eloriaz USER (9 Reviews)
June 27th, 2013 | 12 replies | 835 views


Release Date: 1997 | Tracklist

Review Summary: WARNING: This album causes earthquakes and may divert Earth from its orbit.

2 of 2 thought this review was well written

When you think about the most emblematic acts in electronic music, which artists come first to your mind? Some people would say Depeche Mode, with their darkly seductive "fashion". Some would automatically mention Daft Punk, picturing two cool-looking robots who make magic with sounds. Others would answer: Kraftwerk, because they spawned popular electronic music. And so on. One of my personal choices, if I had to give an answer to that question, would be The Chemical Brothers. I like to imagine Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons as two mad and brilliant chemists who play with musical machines in their laboratory and set free monstrous things, kind of like Doctor Octopus in the Spider-Man mythology. Few open the dancefloor as masterfully as them: "Chemical Beats", "Block Rockin' Beats", "Hey Boy Hey Girl", "Star Guitar" and "Swoon" are just but a few of their numerous contributions to it.

While they have always stayed relevant to electronic music - Further effortlessly proves that - most fans hold Dig Your Own Hole, their second studio album, as their most astounding release. Of course, this album gave an hour of pure glory to the Big Beat genre: fat and wide breaks, boom boom BOOM basslines, funk and psychedelic explosions, larger-than-life hooks, the black and hot androgynous artwork that could make a great poster, you know the deal. But beyond that, it simply is a crowning achievement in dance music history, released alongside The Fat of the Land, Homework and Vegas in the year of 1997.

If electronic albums were to be represented by Super Smash characters, Dig Your Own Hole might be Bowser. I don't know of any album that sounds exactly like it. What I mean is, it does find a truly unique and awesome way to make you move. What dancing moves do you make when you listen to this? From a dance perspective, Dig is very peculiar because it certainly invents some of those moves you might make. If I were to search for metaphors to describe it, they would be unlike anything I would say about other dance albums. It's like Tom and Ed are throwing rocks at your ears but in such an ingenious way that the rocks give you a feeling of sheer energy instead of... well, hurting you. The breaks sound like bulldozers and steamrollers destroying mountains just for the fun of it. A cavernous ambiance and deep, deep echoes go through all the album. Just think about the gorgeous synth hook during the second part of "Piku", while the breaks surround you in stalagmites: it's like I just found some underground wonder buried in a mountain for centuries! True to its namesake, Dig is the sound of yourself "digging" your hole all the way into the secret places of Earth where the treasures of dragons and golems are.

Now, obviously, it already helps if your opener is one of the most insane electronic anthems ever. "Block Rockin' Beats" speaks for itself. The first twenty seconds or so introduce the listener to the album and sound cavernous, like I said. This is when you enter the catacombs in search of (loud) enigmas. The track literally never lets you go: it features an incredibly infectious voice sample, a oh-so catchy bassline, athletic breaks, heavy "drops", as well as the sound of a giant mutant mouse screaming with red eyes. The title track is the playful one, filled with watery noises, pool lifeguard whistles and a sizzling bassline.

"Elektrobank" is the messy and crazy track that turns out to be hypnotic. Brutal yet generous, it is as rebel as an erupting volcano. "Piku", softer and subtle, "digs" even further into the undergrounds and features, like I mentioned, a wonderful melody. "Setting Sun", top-of-the-mountain song, raises its fists in victory and gives The Chems another opportunity to experiment with weird, over-the-top and pleasurable sounds. Some of them are found in the last - too short - 40 seconds of the song. What are those? They are like magic spells sampled from a MMORPG. They just add to the little details that make Dig Your Own Hole even more than a superb dance album.

"It Doesn't Matter" and "Don't Stop the Rock" are indeed the Electronic Battle Weapons of DYOH, safe drugs made for the dancefloor. The former increases the heartbeat and sounds like Stonehenge on party. Exactly like in "Setting Sun", the last part of the track makes some place for loud sonic experimentations that leave the rest up to your imagination. "Don't Stop the Rock", very liquid ride, is as deep as "Piku". "Get Up on It Like This", cocky track, is the celebration now that you have reached the center of the Earth. "Lost in the K-Hole", with its penetrating groove, tells about the things that have not yet been discovered or yet resolved.

We are now at the end of the album. The last two tracks are the awakening of course. "Where Do I Begin" perpetuates the likes of Orbital's "Halcyon", perfect song to conclude a memorable night. It really captures the "childhood" light of a sunrise. It soothes you with resonant breaks until its raw second half leads to the pure daylight of... "The Private Psychedelic Reel", which is perhaps one of the most underrated things made by The Chems. Just when you feel Dig Your Own Hole is finished, Tom and Ed throw this roller coaster of a track at you, ideal for any road trip. Amazingly optimistic, it encapsulates the sunny afternoon of your dreams. It basically says: Live & Be.

The Chemical Brothers are not done. Further has shown the world that they still have fantastic ideas for electronic music. Their live concert made into a film and an album, Don't Think, is a major reason why they are still as much breathtaking as before. Who wouldn't dance to a live Chems show? However, even if you are not interested in their future, you cannot explore electronic music and not give a few listens to Dig Your Own Hole. It is their most indispensable offering.



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user ratings (342)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
Ben Thornburgh CONTRIBUTOR (4.5)
For Tomorrow: A Guide to Contemporary British Music, 1988-2013 (Part 28)...

Stephen Gore (4)
Despite a flawed mid-section, Dig Your Own Hole presents too much energy and sonic wizardry to pass ...

AfroMan (4.5)
...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Eloriaz
June 27th 2013



596 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

GUYS! The Chems need more love on Sputnik =(

Soooo, one of my favorite dance records. I thought it needed a 5/5 review. Seriously, when will they come to Montreal at last? It's just Canada it's not on the Moon! I can't watch Don't Think all my life on the computer, I gotta live it! That being said, can't wait for their next album; I'm guessing a 2014 release.

I hope you enjoyed the review =]

Lesser-known tracks:

"Elektrobank": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0rVbB3Z_-o
"It Doesn't Matter": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvOge07GcO4
"Don't Stop the Rock": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfcvuMxRnQA
"Lost in the K-Hole": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDdbiKQTE-w

Digging: Source Direct - Exorcise The Demons

HolidayKirk
Contributing Reviewer
June 27th 2013



1472 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review! Easy pos.

My favorite song off this album is "Piku"

Digging: Blood Orange - Cupid Deluxe

Eloriaz
June 27th 2013



596 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thank you!!

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
June 27th 2013



14487 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

quite like this, much better than some of the stuff that came after

Digging: Ian Anderson - Homo Erraticus

Eloriaz
June 27th 2013



596 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yeah, it's so hard to top this! Still, I cannot stress enough how much I love Further considering it's their 7th LP.

Acanthus
June 27th 2013



9506 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Kinda in response to the first question you ask, The Crystal Method and these guys pretty much go hand in hand for me (love all of their work).

Digging: Symphony X - Paradise Lost

Eloriaz
June 27th 2013



596 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yes I love TCM too. Vegas is big for me and, I swear, that album always always reminds
me of The Matrix. Still haven't listened to Divided by Night though.

Acanthus
June 27th 2013



9506 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I really really liked that one, their sound there is very different and not homogeneous; each track stands on its own for different reasons.

Funnily enough it has LMFAO as guest vocalists for one of the tracks.

Eloriaz
June 27th 2013



596 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I was actually surprised to see that when I looked it up on Wikipedia haha! But it's nice hearing you
like it and I'll give the album a listen very soon =]

bloc
June 27th 2013



34489 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I remember the first time I heard Bloc Rockin' Beats...

Digging: Gamma Ray - Empire of the Undead

Eloriaz
June 27th 2013



596 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

That must be a great souvenir "bloc"!

SanguineCream
January 9th 2014



591 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Setting Sun's still my favorite (old school) chem bros jam





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