5 Apr 2016

Chaosmosis by Primal Scream

From The Sampler, 7:30 pm on 5 April 2016
Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie

Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie Photo: CC by 3.0 Livepict

Nick Bollnger checks a pop-tronic excursion from Scottish rockers Primal Scream.

no metadata

It’s 25 years now since Primal Scream seized their moment. At the height of acid house, this Scottish rock band did what might look obvious on paper but which no one had had either the inspiration or attitude to do: combined the trippy electronic dance music of the day with old school rock’n’roll. The result was Screamadelica, an album that still ranks on those lists of the great and good. But a quarter century on, what else have they come up with?

Chaosmosis is Primal Scream’s eleventh and latest album, and if you had heard nothing they have done since Screamadelica you might think they hadn’t had a single new idea in all that time. The opening track, ‘Trippin’ On Your Love’ is Screamadelica redux: Martin Duffy’s Nicky Hopkins-inspired piano and guitarist Andrew Innes’s wah-wah licks melded with one of those instant-party house grooves, while Bobby Gillespie gets chorus help from Californian sister singers Haim.

One device they have used to make Chaosmosis seem more relevant and contemporary is to ring in some younger and frequently female voices. There are Haim’s harmonies on that opening track, and there’s edgy twenty-something singer Sky Ferreira who alternates lines with Gillespie on ‘Where the Light Gets In’, another of the album’s hookier cuts.

But despite Primal Scream’s reputation as a bunch of rock’n’roll bad boys, Chaosmosis is a slick, poppy and essentially calculated piece of work. And perhaps that is the main thing that has changed over the quarter century since Screamadelica. Back then, this was a band that genuinely didn’t seem to give a toss what people thought; evidenced in the way they followed that big breakthrough by shedding the acid house beats, relocating to the American South and making a follow-up that sounded like Glasgow’s answer to the Black Crowes. And their approach remained as wilful for a while after that, as they free-ranged through dub and Krautrock on Vanishing Point, punk and industrial on XTRMNTR.

But few bands stay restlessly creative forever, and those mid-period Scream albums – which seemed rather messy and unfocussed at the time – stand out now as feats of imagination compared to this.

Songs featured: Trippin’ On Your Love; Golden Rope; Feeling Like A Demon Again; I Can Change; Where the Light Gets In.

Chaosmosis is available on Ignition Records.

Get the new RNZ app

for easy access to all your favourite programmes

Subscribe to The Sampler

Podcast (MP3) Oggcast (Vorbis)