. issue XXI : ii .
. artist : chrome .
. album : half machine from the sun: the chrome lost tracks from ’79-’80 .
. year : 2013 .
. label : king of spades .
. grade : a .
Those that know the acid-punk band Chrome will love this. Especially loved will be the era when these tracks were made, right between the Half Lip Machine Moves and Red Exposure albums. Half Machine from the Sun, the Chrome Lost Tracks from ’79-’80 is a time machine trip worth taking, just what you want from the time period you want it — the Damon Edge/Helios Creed era of Chrome.
The band was creating a plethora of music during this time, experimenting and feeling their way around the sounds and influences of the day, yet maintaining their level of otherworldliness. Creed said that when he and Edge were creating music they would get a “chill factor” of mutual goose bumps when things were sounding just right. As they were starting to grow and explore, they may also have been getting headstrong in their own sense of musical direction, and they parted ways in 1983, with Edge continuing his own version of Chrome in Europe while Creed began his solo journey. In the 90’s, Edge and Creed began talking about reforming their version of Chrome again; unfortunately, Edge passed away before the reunion could happen. Since then, Creed has continued the band’s legacy, playing not only new material but making a point to play the classics during live shows as well.
Evidently the story goes that these “lost tracks” were shelved away at Mobius Music and forgotten about until a few years ago when they bubbled up to the surface of discovery. Helios Creed heard the tracks were being shopped around, and that’s when he started a Pledge Music campaign to get them remixed and released. The result is this fulfilling and wonderful double album of prime Chrome material.
Listeners will feel the sense of exploration by Edge and Creed in these tracks. In many ways, this album is a peek into a band trying to find its way after their groundbreaking Half Lip record, the dawn of new wave and the beginning of the 1980’s explosion of everything. This time for them was their most prolific and energetic, releasing five albums and two EPs in the span of four years. It only seems fitting that this release is two albums worth of music. Songs on the album range from true Chrome-isms like “Anything,” to the eight-minute off-kilter funk trance “Looking for your Door,” to more unique experiments in genre like “The Rain” and “Charlie’s Little Problem.”
“Anything” is a perfect start to the album, with their signature hiccup-like interruptive sound bite burble leading into an addictive riff surrounded by multi-octave effects on vocals and some engaging moog sounds that echo into oblivion. A few tracks do seem rather out of place lyrically, but sound completely Chrome just the same. “Salt,” for example, is a political tune about the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks involving the United States and the Soviet Union in the late 70’s, is a little lost through time, but still solid with Helios Creed’s signature flange guitar and Edge’s deadpan spooky vocals. The most interestingly awkward track on the album is Creed’s ballad-bending “The Rain,” which takes his gaunt-image evoking vocals to their most unusually raw level; the result is ghastly and haunting.
Each side of the record can put the listener in certain moods. With the first side, it’s the excitement that one is hearing tracks that could have easily made it onto the Alien Soundtracks or Half Lip Machine Moves albums. Other sides are evocative of sexuality, alien weirdness, and instrumental shoe gazing. By the fourth side of the journey, the listener is flung deep into drone guitar synth space, with hypnotic repetitive tracks like “Sugar Moog Pops” and “Sunset.”
Half Machine from the Sun is a hearty dose of Chrome’s own creative expressions at the time when these two way-out dudes weren’t just coming from left field — they were in an entirely different ballpark. This album fits well into their discography as a recording of the period, but in no way does it feel dated. Chrome was never a band you could pinpoint easily to an era since they sounded so unique, then and now. This is one of the best surprise releases of 2013.
by Phil D