ISSUE #12 - 1997

Chemical Brothers - Dig Your Own Hole

    Coked-out hair-disco that's supposed to be the urban double-dicked swinger to ambient's stay-at-home dope fiend. After all those dark Aphex Twin recs, the masses are weeping with glee over the fact that there's going to be dancing, copulation and snacks at this revolution, fully ignoring the fact that the chance of the major labels pumping hundreds of millions into hardcore jungle and Selected Ambient Works, Vol. 2 was always about as slim as the likelihood of their sending Foetus or Unsane on tour with Pearl Jam. Despite all the revolutionary rhetoric around Dig, the truth is that this rec is about as difficult to enjoy as a Swedish massage after a case of whippets and about as radical as Odelay, which pretty much makes it this summer's most obvious party record for anyone under forty. All the talk would have you believe that you need a Ph.D. in computer engineering andlor telekinetic powers bestowed by hourly dope breaks administered by a ten-tabbed Timothy Leary wearing nothing but rabbit ears stapled to an African dance mask to enjoy this rec, but hype is hype and any old-timer ancient enough to remember when Donna Summer was huge or young enough to consider White Zombie's dance hit "More Human" to be a seminal moment will consider Dig to be just about the most innocent and obvious piece of techno-foppery around and about as dangerous as MTV. Forget the platform sneakers and white dreads, Mabel. I would suggest ten gold chains and a wide-lapel white suit, but for all my snide intentions this recommendation is still too niche and ultra-chic and somehow beyond my scorn in its hipness, so try jeans and Reeboks and the Gap for the true money shot. New Yorkers love to suck their own privates by telling themselves how wild and kooky they are, but for every East Village heroin addict who's already pawned his copy of Dig for a fix, there's a second cousin out in Kansas who's already bought this and every import remix disc to boot and is hustling truck drivers at the local Motel 6 to save up the cash to visit his second cousin in New York because it sounds like a twenty-four-hour party where they play phat sounds like the Chem. Bros. all night long. To be honest, I don't remember where the fuck the Chem. Bros. are from, but they might as well be from NYC 'cause their sassy, suave, good-timey aesthetic that feels no pain but looks damn good just about perfectly captures the urban MTV youth as they like to be seen: young, beautiful, rich, hot, fun, careless, thoughtless, wild. I get the creepy feeling that Dig is what the Village Voice would love to see rock turn into: castrated, androgynous, anonymous and glam. There's been a ton of overheated happy talk regarding the Chem. Bros. as the most "rock" of the electronics crew, but this is wishful thinking more than anything else 'cause it would take a myopic no-eared retard to overlook NIN, White Zombie, Godflesh, Marilyn Manson, hardcore jungle, gabber and hard trance as the true hybrids of rock/disco miscegenation. The Chem. Bros. are merely big-drum providers of perfect party moments, and their pleasure-soused mix has the nine secret spices found in every batch of disco blather. Loud drums and sampled bass do not rock make, and god help them if they get down with any liberal causes, because then they'll be the poster children for every tight-trousered sensitive crooner within a 5,000 mile radius and may very well poison rock for the next six months, forcing me to read whiny "post-rock" essays until I want to puke or form a one-note band based on a mutant combination of the Troggs and a broken dishwasher that threatens to blow its door off and send a Franklin Mint Eddie Vedder dinner plate into your skull. Two years from now, the very notion that these plastic figurines were considered radical saviors of hard music will probably be the most laughable and cringeworthy notion around, not unlike the idea that ska is the next big thing, which is an equally idiot fever making the rounds. No one is safe from these ideas, which is why I stay at home or travel in a plastic bubble whenever I have to take the subway. You're advised to do the same, or simply use the magic mantra to protect yourself: "Major labels are safe and greedy, major labels are safe and greedy". Whenever you start to feel yourself getting sucked in by the crazed notion that the majors would support anything "radical" that isn't 110% in their favor, just start mumbling this to yourself and understand that every product on a major or on MTV has already been test-driven, lab-tested, dropkicked by ten-year-olds and exhaustively previewed before a committee of twentysomething slackers with no visible means of employment. By the time this sperm has beaten out every other sperm in the battle to the golden egg, it's already gotten the rubber stamp of approval from four dozen handlers and is most assuredly the most innocuous piece of fluff that money can buy. Your parents may hate it, but this is always the lamest criteria around, and the real test for radicalism or innovation in any piece of music remotely compelling or interesting is whether or not your "peers" - those curious zombies who are your age and live near you and have similar educational backgrounds but seem to be from another planet entirely - can stomach it without hunting for a seal of approval on the label or looking around desperately to see if everyone's laughing at them or not. Now that culture is tailor-made for every demographic, the so-called generation gap doesn't exist anymore, 'cause everyone gets their own music and their own culture and genuine age based turf wars are pure history. Culture isn't made for Mom and Dad and forced down your clenched Gen-X throat, Jack. Culture is made for you and your hipster peers, and if everyone you know likes it but your parents don't, well, nobody cares, 'cause the battle's already been won, and if you want to think that this is a victory over stodgy conservatism, the label will be delighted to sell you a dozen more copies to help you fight the power. Just don't worry about the Chem. Bros.: their music goes down as easily as a sandwich made out of a Twinkie spread over two pieces of Ring Ding and glazed like a doughnut.
   -J. Marlowe

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