(New Album Review) Chrome- Feel It Like a Scientist
Helios Creed’s Chrome has released a new album, Feel It Like a Scientist. It is a shame that he won’t be bringing Chrome on a U.S. tour, though they did recently play a festival in Los Angeles called Berserktown.
Together as Chrome, Damon Edge and Helios Creed pioneered weirdo art punk, exerting a strong influence on much of the punk and noise made in the following decades. Even for their idiom, Chrome made music that was overwhelmingly strange– deranged punk running wild against an uneasy backdrop of menacing vocals, weird synthesizers, shortwave radios, and televisions. In a way, because they have strained so aggressively for such profound, bizarre symbolism, with little thought given to aesthetic pleasantness or even to having a clear-cut ideological “point”, Chrome are one of the most “punk” bands to ever exist. Moreover, their experiments with technology certainly prefigured the transition of sampling into mainstream music. For years, they were really just a name to me, and that’s all they may be to you as well at the moment, however I must emphasize that their albums Half Machine Lip Moves, Alien Soundtracks, and the underrated Red Exposure are essential listening.
As Chrome’s fans may already know, Damon Edge sadly passed away in 1995. He had been in contact with Helios Creed before his death, and they had been discussing reforming Chrome as a duo (from the mid-80’s up to The Clairaudient Syndrome Damon Edge had been recording under the Chrome moniker without Helios), and it’s sad that he was taken so young by heart failure before this reunion could have happened. Helios has soldiered on for Chrome parallel to working on his own solo albums, and these new Chrome albums aren’t half bad. Feel It Like A Scientist is actually the first new Chrome album in about twelve years.
Creed’s manifestation of Chrome is admirably consistent not only with the work he and Damon created together, but with the Chrome that Damon made on his own. It’s actually hard to tell a Damon-era Chrome album apart from Helios-era album. The main point of difference lies in Helios’s guitar playing– the Helios Chrome is more of a rock affair than Damon’s vision. For this record, Creed formed a new band, including vocalist Anne Dromeda, guitarist Keith Thompson, drummer Aleph Omega, bassists Lux Vibratus and Steve Fishman, and synth player Tommy Grenas. The band collectively wrote the album’s lyrics, but Creed also included some lines originally written by Damon.
Feel it Like a Scientist is considerably better than Ghost Machine and feels a little more like a Chrome album than the jammy (but nonetheless interestingly-crafted) Retro-Transmission. This is a good album that will sate old fans of the band– there are many moments here where one can feel the spirit of Chrome resurrecting for the first time in years, particularly on “Prophecy” and the haunting ambience of “Nymph Droid”. Just as they did decades ago, the feverish punk energy and the alien madness come together to create something really damn cool. This is a reunion album to be reckoned with.