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The Chemical Brothers: “Life is Sweet” and “Setting Sun”

The Chemical Brothers are Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons, high school friends who formed the band in 1989 in Manchester, England.

The band, according to Wikipedia, helped to bring the big beat genre “to the forefront of pop culture.” They were rewarded with six number one albums and 13 top 20 singles. Two of those reached number one, the item says.

The Chemical Brothers (Image: Alterna2 at https://www.flickr.com/photos/alterna2/)

The item defines The Chemical Brothers as an electronica band. It’s more interesting to understand what that is than to do a mini-bio of the band. The Wikipedia item on electronica calls it an umbrella term that includes six subgroups: Techno, house, ambient, drum and bass, jungle and industrial dance. It’s interesting that the writer says that electronica is aimed at “concentrated listening” as well as dancing.

Electronica has regional differences. In North America in the late 1990s, electronica was closely associated with the nightclub and rave scenes. The music business moved on to electronic dance music (EDM) by late in the last decade. Elsewhere – particularly in the United Kingdom – electronica is associated with non-dance type music, including downtempo styles. Outside the U.K., electronica overlaps with intelligent dance music (IDM).

Musical definitions are at the same time necessary and dry and counter-productive. Music is music and reading too much about it takes out the excitement. A person either likes what he or she is listening to or doesn’t. That’s simplistic but true. There is bop, hard bop, cool jazz and west coast jazz. All but the most dedicated fan wouldn’t know which category John Coltrane, Charlie Parker or Horace Silver fit into. That same person, however, might be able to say without thinking whether a particular band played west coast rock, glam rock, psychedelic rock or some other form.

The point is a disappointing one to a person who spends time running a music site: The style and the precise chedefinitions don’t really matter. What matters is if the listener enjoys or in some other ways benefits from the music. The rest is paperwork.

The Chemical Brothers’ “Life is Sweet” is above and “Setting Sun” is below. They are the top two songs from the band according to a listing a couple of years ago at Stereo Gum.