Review of Don't Think - Live From Japan Album by Chemical Brothers

Earlier this year, The Chemical Brothers became the first artists of their kind to release a four-dimensional movie of a live performance in cinemas only. Recorded last July at the Fuji Rock festival in Niigata, Japan, 'Don't Think' is a visually interactive documentary that captures the essence of The Chemical Brothers live performance in every way possible. Having witnessed the cinematic experience at Nottingham's Showcase in February alongside a smattering of hardcore fans and passers by, its one of those films that demands to be seen, perhaps more importantly, in the right surroundings. Directed by Adam Smith, whose previous credits range from overseeing episodes of Dr Who and Skins to music videos for The Streets as well as providing visuals for The Chemical Brothers first ever gig in 1994, 'Don't Think' is a timeless collection of footage highlighting the euphoric intensity of one of the UK's most consistent live acts these past two decades.

Chemical Brothers Don't Think - Live From Japan Album

Following on from the initial film, the official release of 'Don't Think' comes as a DVD & CD double-pack that is a must-have for anyone remotely interested in The Chemical Brothers. Aside from the two discs, the elaborate packaging features a selection of stills taken from the live footage, and comes in the shape of an ornate, hardback case. While the audio CD breaks the concert down into eleven segments, leaving out Junior Parker's sophisticated intro cover of The Beatles 'Tomorrow Never Knows' and 'It Doesn't Matter' from the band's breakthrough sophomore record 'Dig Your Own Hole', the DVD captures their festival headline slot in its entirety.

From Parker's introductory piece to the pulsating 'Another World' and 'Do It Again' that open the show, it's a non-stop hyperactive array of dancing marshmallow men, lasers, floating fruit and multi-coloured shapes. And that's just on the big screens situated behind Ed Symons and Tom Rowlands, the Brothers themselves. However, what sets 'Don't Think' apart from every other live concert given an airing on celluloid is that it doesn't just stop there. Full frontal shots of the duo's stage show only accounts for about one third of 'Don't Think'. The accompanying footage for 'Get Yourself High' takes you into Symons and Rowland's confined spaces on stage, traversing the pair from every angle as though the viewr is interactively hitting every note with them. And then there's the audience footage, much of which focuses around a pretty young Japanese girl whose facial expressions kind of take us through every single voyage of what it's like to be at such an event, chemically enhanced or otherwise, from the adrenalin rush of the build up to the sheer ecstasy of several thousand hands in the air for 'Swoon', until the post-rave comedown greets 'Superflash' in the film's home stretch.

Highlights arrive thick and fast. The aforementioned 'Superflash' introduced with a fearful clown's face insisting "You are my children now!" to close-up cataclysmic screams from selected audience members; the smooth segue from the band's 'Leave Home' anthem into 'Galvanize', the only noticeable link being the instinctive war cry of "Don't look back." Elsewhere, graphics appear then flicker out of focus before returning as something entirely unrelated altogether. The only thing that's missing is long time favourite 'The Private Psychedelic Reel' but when you've a back catalogue as exhaustive as what The Chemical Brothers possess, it would be nigh on impossible to squeeze everything into just over eighty minutes.

As an ambitious statement of intent in its own right, 'Don't Think' is streets ahead of anything else of its kind. As a document celebrating the unflappable genius of arguably dance music's most forward thinking innovators, it's simply unmissable.

Dom Gourlay

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