The past 12 months have been fairly exciting for the UK dance scene; not only has Britain produced some of the biggest musical exports of the year (Rudimental, Disclosure and AlunaGeorge to name but three), but with a new wave of artists also appearing to fuse soul and dance, there seems to be a nice change on the horizon. And what’s more, there’s not an EDM in sight, so it’s refreshing to hear that dance supremos Chase and Status have chosen to bypass this genre, moreso paying homage to musical styles of the past 3 decades in new album Brand New Machine.
What’s clear from the oft, is that the production duo seem to have had a slightly different focus with this LP; steering more toward the big anthemic melodies that fit so well with their live shows.
Up until Brand New Machine, it seemed that nothing could steal the crown off 2011’s infectious, disco-inspired Blind Faith, however with the first two singles already showing what Saul Milton (Chase) and Will Kennard (Status) still have left in them, it’s clear that the duo want to be known as the kings of euphoric dance.
Lost & Not Found appears toward the back half of the album, whilst current single, the rapturous Count On Me makes its mark early on, setting the listener up to the sounds of Moko whom also appears later, on wonderful track Like That. As a new kid on the block, Moko is really a force to contend with; her vocal abilities are not only apparent on the studio versions of these two tracks, but also came into their own two weeks back during her stunning rendition of London Grammar’s Strong for BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge series. Still only new to the Chase and Status game, it would feel bizarre if either Moko or Lost & Not Found-collaborator Louis M^ttrs were absent from any live performances over the coming 12/24 months, such is how much fans are already considering them part of the C&S family.
There’s some real Prodigy influences in here too, particularly with opening tracks Gun Metal Grey and International, the former tending to sound more like an LP-intro versus a standalone song, however.
Meanwhile, it’s Blk and Blu, featuring newcomer Ed Thomas, that will bring grins to UK garage-heads, harking back strongly to the likes of MJ Cole (Crazy Love) and Artful Dodger (I Can’t Give It Up); a simple yet sublime 2-step beat which throws in some robust 4/4 vocals mid-way. Wonderful.
What seems wholly apparent too is that Chase and Status are working hard to give steps up to rising UK talent, and none moreso than new Island Records signing Elli Ingram (whom shot to web fame over the past 18 months with her unique spins on Labrinth, Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West). Her trip-hop inspired Heaven Knows wouldn’t sound too far out of place as a lead Morcheeba track. In fact, the Portishead-esque nod gives you the complete come-down you need to shoot straight up again with Lost & Not Found, which, although needs little by way of introduction, is the perfect blend of 90s acid house anthem as it is soulful breakbeat.
One listen to Deeper Devotion and you’ll start to wonder whether you’ve just put on a mid-90s pop/dance album and skipped to Livin Joy’s Dreamer. The swooping beat moulded with crazy synths sound a perfect fusion with Adamski’s Killer. Toddla T seemed to try this formula a couple of years back with Take It Back, and it worked then; Chase & Status have worked hard to bring the ‘right’ bits of the 90s up to modern day.
One big surprise however is how ‘un-Nile Rodgers’ the Nile Rodgers collaboration of What Is Right, actually is. It’s a wonderful track, in fact could be one of the strongest on the album, however it seems bizarre that Rodgers has let his signature disco-funk guitar grooves be heard so far in the distance they may as well not have been included. Still, it leaves wonder as to what other tracks the powerhouses cooked up in the studio together. The piece also introduces another newcomer, Abigail Wyles, whose sound seem not-too-removed from the likes of Laura Welsh.
Brand New Machine is a completely accomplished record; one that undoubtedly has been build around focus and desire. It’s clear that the production duo want to be crowned kings of the festival anthems, and there’s tracks on here that just might help them continue their reign. It’s not the greatest album of the year though, but as dance records go it’s fucking high up…. and what’s the best bit about it? There’s not one sign of EDM in sight!
Great work to all involved.
Hit the iTunes link below to buy Brand New Machine now: