The Chemical Brothers Brotherhood

Since Exit Planet Dust, Chemical Brothers albums have been presented more or less as continuous pieces of art, much like a DJ set. If any of the pieces are removed, the entire experience is frigged up. Which explains why it feels like there’s something missing when listening to tracks like "Leave Home” and "Chemical Beats” on Brotherhood, Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons’ second singles collection in the space of three years. Further omissions heighten the feeling: namely the absence of frequent collaborators Tim Burgess (the Charlatans UK) and Beth Orton. Without them, the collection fails to chronicle the Chemical Brothers’ gradual transformation from coldish, noisy techno to soul-inflected computer rock. Likewise, "My Private Psychedelic Reel” (and a host of other singles candidates) got edged out by two new tracks: "Keep My Composure,” a mediocre stab at crunk starring Spank Rock, and "Midnight Madness,” a gutsy (and successful) shot at reviving trance. The potential carrot is the second disc, featuring their Electronic Battle Weapons Decalogue. Begun in 1996, this collection represents their more experimental lab work but surprisingly, much of it sounds like extended versions of proper album tracks ("Nothing Matters” and "Saturate”), which are still too grounded in their obsessive 4/4 beat structures. Brothers Gonna Work It Out proved they could mix so why not let them? Brotherhood would hardly be worth coughing up the money for if it wasn’t for its slick packaging: a gorgeous box, postcard and a stunning booklet featuring psychedelic silk-screened covers of their singles. A rare thing in the age of faceless downloading. (Virgin)