Since their first production in 2004, Chase and Status, also known as Will Kennard, and Saul Milton have produced two hugely successful albums, More Than A Lot (2008) and No More Idols (2011). The latter selling enough copies to reach double platinum status, a testament to the duo’s success. Chase & Status having become synonymous with British electronic dance music, and have a formidable list of anthems to their name, ‘No Problem,’ ‘Pieces,’ ‘Heartbeat,’ and ‘Blind Faith,’ to name but a few. Accordingly, 7th October was a greatly anticipated date for fans, being the release of Chase & Status’ third full length album, Brand New Machine.
Brand New Machine is still very much a Chase & Status album, however it does see the duo explore new directions for their sound, and experiment with genres. The duo have explained that the record is more heavily influenced by the vibes of the late 90s that they grew up with, than their past albums. Accordingly this has caused an outcry from some long-term fans, claiming the album doesn’t feature enough of their trademark drum and bass, prevalent on earlier albums. This may be point of contention, but ultimately makes the record a richer and more diverse showcase of Chase & Status’ skills. Fans expecting a wholly drum and bass record will likely be disappointed, as this is not what Brand New Machine is, however that is not to say the high quality drum and bass Chase & Status have become known for is absent at all.
The first single released from Brand New Machine proves this point. ‘Lost and Not Found,’ featuring Louis M^ttrs is an example of how Kennard and Milton can craft an energetic and memorable beat, whilst also showcasing their talent at discovering high calibre artists to collaborate with. M^ttrs’ vocals bring a quiet power to the song that is wholly welcome, and coupled with the support of strings successfully evokes a similar feel to Massive Attacks’s immensely popular ‘Unfinished Symphony,’ which is cited by the pair as an inspiration behind the track.
Fans seeking drum and bass are sure to be pleased by the liquid DnB track ‘Breathing’ featuring Bo saris, and the album’s finale ‘Alive.’ The latter coupling the uplifting vocals of Jacob Banks, with a heavier dosage of bass that satisfyingly delivers a more familiar Chase & Status sound.
Brand New Machine also demonstrates Chase & Status’ ability to take a genre and make it their own as the pair make their first foray into Trap. For example in ‘Machine Gun,’ rather than settle for the conventional trap snare rolls, the duo mimic these with short bursts of gunfire, giving the song a raw energy that adds to its power. In addition the song features some really heavy kicks and synth that will surely satisfy any bass junkie. Due to the current mainstream popularity of trap, both ‘Machine Gun’ and ‘International,’ are likely to become very popular.
Overall all the tracks on Brand New Machine are produced to the high standard expected of Chase & Status, however the album certainly has a number of stand out moments. ‘Count on Me,’ the second single, is an immensely fun and enjoyable modern update on a classic rave style track, overlaid with big piano chords and excellent vocals from Moko, recently signed to the duo’s label. As another throwback, the track ‘Blk and Blu,’ gives a nod to the garage movement Kennard and Milton found influential in their earlier years. ‘Pressure,’ sees a collaboration between the duo and influential American producers Major Lazer, deliberately avoiding an immense build up and drop that culminates in a chilled yet moody track, quite unlike any previous songs. Lastly, ‘Heaven Knows,’ sees Chase & Status introduce up and coming singer, Elli Ingram to the styles of the 90s Bristol movement, to create a downbeat anthem, with all the potential to be Bond theme.
Brand New Machine, is a difficult album to judge initially, partially due to the substantial shadow cast by the success of its predecessors making comparison almost unavoidable. Consequently the record can at first feel a little unfamiliar due to the presence of a hip-hop and trap influence on many tracks and Kennard and Milton’s greater exploration of their own personal influences on others, leading to a smaller presence of the drum and bass the duo have become so renowned for. Furthermore, the pair note that following recent developments in dance music they have reduced their usage of guitar, and other live instruments, giving a prevalence to electronic elements of their sound production. It’s hard not to feel a little disappointed to hear such a successful act as Chase & Status are choosing to follow trends rather than set them. All this said however, it is impossible not to enjoy Brand New Machine, it’s diversity in both genre and vocalists prevents it from becoming tiresome or repetitive, and Chase & Status have delivered a number of knock-out songs that will likely be played again and again.
Brand New Machine is released on 7th October 2013 by Mercury Records