Chicane – Far from the Maddening Crowds

Twenty years ago this week, Chicane released his debut album Far from the Maddening Crowds. It’s a great album, probably still the best of his career to date, so let’s give it a listen as a celebration.

It opens with Early, an ambient piece which sets the scene appropriately. Unlike many of his later works, this album is largely instrumental, and Early is full of gentle pads and swells. It mixes into the lovely Already There, which introduces gentle Spanish guitar sounds, but is otherwise another pleasant, spacious track, which carries us steadily onwards.

This album was the culmination of a couple of years’ worth of work, and so we get two different versions of Chicane‘s early hit single Offshore – first comes the Original Version, a beautiful mixture of beats, guitars, and gentle synth pads, with a plodding rhythmic synth that always sounds distinctly summery. The second version comes later on.

Then comes third single Lost You Somewhere, built around soft vocal samples but otherwise broadly similar to Offshore until it suddenly grows into an enormous trance piece, roughly halfway through. This fascinating mixture of gentle, laid back, banging trance music continues with From Blue to Green.

Then comes the second single, Sunstroke, remixed by Disco Citizens (in case you were wondering, that’s someone called Nick Bracegirdle, who also goes by the name Chicane). Again, this is broadly in a similar vein to Offshore, but it breaks out into a tirade of dance beats roughly halfway through, and it’s entirely catchy.

By the time Leaving Town mixes into the deep dance of Red Skies, you will have your hands in the air, and have long since forgotten about the relaxing opening of the album. But it’s been a gentle, gradual change of pace, and one that is executed exceedingly well.

The original version of Sunstroke turns up next, considerably more laid back than the remix that we heard earlier, and then we get Offshore ’97, a bumped-up version with more beats and a moderately annoying vocal about nothing in particular from Power Circle. It’s difficult to get too annoyed though, as most of the spirit of the original is still there, but it might have been nice if Bracegirdle had taken the time to record something new instead, especially as this reissued single actually performed less well on the charts than the original.

That’s pretty much it for this album – only the gentle-but-beatsy The Drive Home remains. If you pick up the 2007 version, you’ll get another remix of Offshore, which is fine, but you can probably live without it.

So Far from the Maddening Crowd is a great album, with plenty of promise, and like a lot of instrumental releases, it’s difficult to put into words sometimes. But this is definitely one that I’d heartily recommend.

The best version to go for is the 2007 reissue, although that appears to be out of print on physical formats, but you should still be able to find yourself a copy.

Random jukebox – Gloworm

Recently revived by Chicane for his new album, here’s an otherwise forgotten piece of electronic pop from the early 1990s, the exceptional voice of Gloworm, with the stirring Carry Me Home. There never was an album, and that’s a bit of a shame, as they were rather good.

Chart for stowaways – 13 August 2016

Here are this week’s biggest albums:

  1. Jean-Michel Jarre – Electronica 2: The Heart of Noise
  2. Clarke Hartnoll – 2Square
  3. I Monster – Bright Sparks
  4. Wolfgang Flür – Eloquence
  5. Pet Shop Boys – Super
  6. Shit Robot – What Follows
  7. New Order – Music Complete
  8. Jean-Michel Jarre – Electronica 1: The Time Machine
  9. Chicane – Twenty
  10. David Bowie – Best of Bowie

Music for the Masses 36 – 16 March 2005

Show 36 was the last before the three week Easter break, and would see Music for the Masses in its springtime Wednesday slot for the last time. Actually, it could have even been the last outing of the show, as the post-holiday scheduling shakeup always meant a few shows dropped out. Fortunately – or unfortunately – it lived on to die another day, this week with New Order as the Artist of the Week.

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Show 36: Wed 16 Mar 2005, from 6:05pm-8:00pm

Broadcast on LSR FM, online only. Artist of the week: New Order.

  • Chicane – No Ordinary Morning
  • Veto Silver – Neon Lites
  • Mory Kante – Yeke Yeke (Hardfloor Mix)
  • Sylver – Who Am I?
  • Andy Pickford – Zweifarbig Bomber (Part 2)
  • Télépopmusik – Don’t Look Back
  • New Order – Blue Monday
  • Alizée – Moi… Lolita
  • Ladytron – Seventeen
  • Daft Punk – Robot Rock
  • Vic Twenty – I Sold Your Heart on eBay
  • Black Box Recorder – The Facts of Life
  • Annie – Always Too Late
  • New Order – True Faith
  • Depeche Mode – Only When I Lose Myself
  • Dusted – Always Remember to Honour and Respect Your Mother (Part 2)
  • Basement Jaxx – Good Luck
  • Komputer – Looking Down on London
  • Marvin the Paranoid Android – Marvin
  • New Order – Krafty
  • Lemon Jelly – Come Down on Me
  • Lionrock – Rude Boy Rock

Retro chart for stowaways – 22 July 2006

While the Chart for stowaways undergoes a bit of a much-needed overhaul, here’s the singles chart from this week in 2006:

  1. Röyksopp – Beautiful Day without You
  2. Depeche Mode – John the Revelator / Lilian
  3. Pet Shop Boys – I’m with Stupid
  4. Paul Oakenfold feat. Brittany Murphy – Faster Kill Pussycat
  5. Goldfrapp – Fly Me Away
  6. Chicane feat. Tom Jones – Stoned in Love
  7. Sohodolls – Stripper
  8. Fatboy Slim – That Old Pair
  9. Massive Attack – Live with Me
  10. Veto Silver – When You’re with That Girl EP

Music for the Masses 26 – 15 November 2004

The second Monday evening show saw the station’s webcam working for the first time in 2004, which therefore meant me (right) and my special guest Carl (left) spent much of the show trying to get ourselves seen on the internets.

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Show 26: Mon 15 Nov 2004, from 6:05pm-8:00pm

Broadcast on LSR FM, online only. Artist of the week: Saint Etienne.

  • Daft Punk – Aerodynamic
  • Chicane – Saltwater
  • Conjure One – Sleep
  • Mory Kante – Yeke Yeke (Hardfloor Mix)
  • Zero 7 – I Have Seen
  • Madonna – Nobody’s Perfect
  • Saint Etienne – Who Do You Think You Are?
  • Front Line Assembly – Everything Must Perish
  • William Orbit – Barber’s Adagio for Strings (Ferry Corsten Remix)
  • BT – Return to Lostwithiel
  • Sylver – Turn the Tide
  • Recoil – Jezebel
  • Moby – Run On
  • Saint Etienne – The Bad Photographer
  • X-Press 2 feat. Dieter Meier – I Want You Back
  • Hal feat. Gillian Anderson – Extremis
  • Zombie Nation – Kernkraft 400
  • Sohodolls – Prince Harry
  • Apollo 440 – Heart Go Boom
  • The Beloved – Sweet Harmony
  • Orbital feat. David Gray – Illuminate
  • Saint Etienne – Amateur
  • Giorgio Moroder – Chase (Jam & Spoon Remix)