“What?” I hear you ask, “There’s a new Chicane album out? I had no idea.”
No, me neither. In fact, I’m not quite sure how you’re supposed to work it out. Nick Bracegirdle, or Chicane, as he more sensibly prefers to be known, keeps releasing new albums, and is doing a great job at keeping them secret and ensuring that people don’t buy them.
His story begins in the mid-1990s, when he worked his way up to releasing Far from the Maddening Crowds (1997), a quite exceptional collection of chilled dance tracks punctuated by Offshore and Sunstroke. His debut, as well as its companion mini-remix-album Chilled (1998) would be soon deleted and largely forgotten about by most people.
Then came Behind the Sun (2000), with Saltwater and Don’t Give Up and a whole load of other wonderful tracks, which is quite rightly what Chicane is known for, except unfortunately I think it’s possibly the only thing that he’s known for.
As far as I can make out, his slightly mediocre comeback and difficult third album Easy to Assemble should have been released in 2003, but was leaked onto the internet in promo form, and widely bootlegged, so he and/or the record company decided not to release it at all. This is where the story gets really confusing, because if, like me, you were unaware of the album when it initially came out, you were actually forced to go out and track down a pirate copy. It seems to me that there’s something very odd going on when an artist forces you to go out and find an illegal copy of their album.
Anyway, eventually in 2007, Chicane came back from his bootleg-inspired huff and put out Somersault, which picks up where Behind the Sun left off by including a couple of the forgotten tracks from Easy to Assemble, and adds the wonderful Stoned in Love, Come Tomorrow, and a whole load of other stuff.
In 2010, he then followed this with Giants, capitalising on the success of his reworked Poppiholla the previous year, and including a number of great tracks such as So Far Out to Sea.
Which brings us to his latest, Thousand Mile Stare. If you believe Wikipedia, then in an interesting repetition of history it was again leaked prior to release and nearly didn’t happen, in which case people like me yet again would have known absolutely nothing about it. But it finally made it out, and that’s a good thing.
The album opens with one of several unpronounceable tracks, the first of which is called Hljóp, a pleasant piano and string piece which would probably be the perfect soundtrack to the northern lights. Much of the album still feels flavoured by Poppiholla, as there are a number of very Nordic-inspired tracks, and to be honest a lot of it is so laid back that I can’t think of much to say about it!
Highlights as you dream your way through the album include Sólarupprás and the remix of Going Deep which for some reason is sitting right in the middle of the album and is considerably better than the original version which finally turns up near the end and includes a man talking over it.
If you’re the sort of person who likes exclusive box sets containing limited edition branded live animals and fruit, then there’s a version like that out there. Otherwise, the standard CD and download versions are pretty widely available from places like Amazon.com.