Monday, 17 January 2011

Chicane - Behind the Sun (2000) Review

As promised, I will be considering the work of Nick Bracegirdle aka Chicane, however as trying to review 4 albums over thirteen years might result in the kind of wall of text seen in the two previous entries, I'm going to break it up into small bits and concentrate on the broader points, not specifics, starting with the first CD that I acquired in my years of teenage musical gluttony.

Behind the Sun is Chicane's most successful album to date, probably because of the two accompanying singles and their impact on the UK singles chart. "Saltwater", a remake of Clannad's "Theme from Harry's Game" is a massive slice of Ibiza atmospherics married to Chicane's trance beats and minimal orchestration, and this 1999 club favourite reached a deserved top 10 position in the chart. "Don't Give Up", a similarly uncomplicated track with Chicane's characteristic ambiance supplemented by vocals from Bryan Adams, managed to get enough traction in the clubs to make an impact and became popular enough to actually reach number one, probably helped by Adams' popularity.  Both of these illustrate exactly how you can make a successful dance track without overdoing it in production, with quite straightforward ideas and no messy effects.

This sets the tone for the whole album actually - Chicane never tries anything too clever or too stupid on it, leaving the actual music to speak for itself, on the upbeat tracks and the downtempo ones.  Here Chicane's slower tracks are good enough not to be confined to elevators, with the backing tracks and melodic parts working together beautifully, and when vocals do appear there's nothing jarring you out of the reverie they will bring you into.  There's nothing really awful to mention on the album, and for consistency it's definitely Chicane's strongest album. Nothing gets on your nerves, no puddings are over-egged and nothing outstays it's welcome.  Therefore, it is also clearly his best album.  I will refrain from going into a ramble about it because its strengths speak for themselves, and it's so refreshingly uncomplicated that analysing it too much would make me sound even more up my own backside. Just give it a listen, especially the two aforementioned singles, and also the tracks "Halcyon", and "Overture". More analysis will be lavished on Chicane's later albums when comparisons to some of these will be made. Mostly negative...

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