If you know your dance music history, you know that U.K. duo The Chemical Brothers are absolute legends. For over 30 years, the Grammy-winning artists have produced some of the genre's most iconic hits, and have merged the worlds of breakbeat, electro, punk, funk, disco, house and noise to find a feeling all their own. They've survived zeitgeist upheaval through the trend-chasing generations by staying true to themselves and creating with a timeless purpose. You know a Checmical Brothers song when you hear it, even as each new iteration of their style explores new waves of emotion.
Listening to the duo's latest album No Geography is a broad and overwhelming emotional experience. It's at once exhilierating, freeing and awe-inspiring. At moments, live ambient noise puts the listener in the crowd. Some moments recalls shadows of their past, maybe a hint of "Star Guitar" in the ecstatic rhythms of "Got To Keep On." There are subtle shifts where blissful chords are engulfed by anxious energy before you even realize chaos was brewing, and other times, the noise comes smashing into the room with the power of ancient thunder.
“The album was recorded at our audio research facility between 2016 and 2019," The Chemical Brothers tell Billboard Dance in a joint statment. "We worked with our longtime friend and engineer Steve Dub Jones, experimenting long and hard to find something fresh that we wanted to say in 2019.”
The Chemical Brothers shared the story behind each of the album's 10 tracks — dive a little bit deeper into their magical world with this exclusive breakdown below.
"Eve Of Destruction"
"This song grew from a riff created on the buchla 200 system. From this point, we imagined a future funk odyssey. The amazing Aurora came from the frozen wilds of Norway to bring her magic. In my Sussex studio, we came up with the idea of 'Eve' as the bringer of destruction. Fueled by ideas of international beat wizardry, we then worked with Nene, an amazing Japanese singer, who pushed the track into another world in the third act. We were playing an early version of the song to start our DJ sets, and so it became the natural choice to open the album."
"The first 3 songs on the album flow like some long-dreamt-of mixtape that we discovered somewhere down the line. Again, Aurora brings her brilliance with angular words hinting at unbalanced relationship dynamics and Gods of thunder bringing bass invocation down upon the dance floor."
"The third phase of the opening mix of songs gives the album its title and its heart. The voice comes from an amazing poem by Michael Brownstein, one of the dial a poem poets of '70s New York. The song makes us emotional with its feeling of love and brotherhood / sisterhood without boundaries. We’re looking forward to playing it live around the world."
"Got To Keep On"
"This song grew over a long period of time and many different approaches. In the end, I hope we managed to synthesize the disco bell with the techno shunt and the psychedelic madness of tears raining down upon the dance floor."
"This is the sound when gravity drops."
"The Universe Sent Me"
"A psychedelic wonder with words and voice from Aurora. This song could have been made a thousand ways, but this is the one we chose. The sound of fingernails rapping on a desk play an important role. When Aurora sang 'You should know, I lied when I told you I was nervous,' I was floored. So much to figure out."
"We’ve Got To Try"
"I had a beautiful blue 7” of a record that I wanted to sample for many years and was always trying to find a way to flip it into something fresh. With the help of Hal Ritson, we were lucky to find the amazing Eshan Gopal to re-sing the vocal and to change direction melodically to take us into the squelch and funk bog."
"The first song we wrote for the record. We loved to play this live last summer; a command to self-liberate and expression set to a spiral beat and a bass test middle 8. The voice is taken from an amazing poem by Diane Di Prima. We are so happy she agreed to let us use it."
"Somehow this 1976 incantation fitted right into 2019; expressing a frustration with where we find ourselves. We played the song in concerts last summer and took the wild twists we learnt from that experience back in to the studio. The version on the record was jammed live in the studio on an everlasting session."
"Catch Me I’m Falling"
"A soft place for the album to land. An amazing vocal from Stephanie Dosen finds itself living side by side with a song letter from the frontline of the Vietnam War. I love sampling these sounds and putting them in to a new context to make something fresh. Peace out."
No Geography is out now on Universal Music. The Chemical Brothers will tour it in very limited capacity this year, with four shows in the Americas and nine throughout Europe. Listen to No Geography and see the full list of tour dates below.
The Chemical Brothers 2019 North American Tour Dates
May 12 — Mexico City, MX @ Pepsi Center WTC
May 15 — Los Angeles, CA @ Shrine Expo Hall *
May 16 — Los Angeles, CA @ Greek Theatre *
May 17 — San Francisco, CA @ Bill Graham Civic Auditorium *
*With The Black Madonna
The Chemical Brothers 2019 International Tour Dates
May 24 — Victoria Park, London, UK @ All Points East Festival
July 11 — Madrid, Spain @ Mad Cool Festival
July 13 — Lisbon, Portugal @ NOS Alive Festival
July 21 — Cuxhaven, Germany @ Deichbrand Festival
November 21 — Leeds First Direct Arena
November 22 — Manchester Arena
November 23 — Glasgow The SSE Hydro
November 28 — Cardiff Motorpoint Arena
November 29 — Birmingham Arena