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Album Review: The Sum of Its Parts by Chicane

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I'm sure the album title was quick to try to point out that the Trance side of electronic music really is nothing if pulled apart (you can only hear a meaningless thump from the bass out of context for so long. As for myself, I keep a hearty record of about 10 seconds before it drives me crazy). I got off topic there for a second...

The Sum of Its Parts is nice blend of modern style electronic music with that trance feel that probably brings us 90's kids into Darude and Eiffel 65 flashbacks, but in a good way! My experience with Chicane comes from several years ago when I bought my first mp3 files, waned through high school, and has returned into my life as I try to broaden myself. Throughout my experience with Chicane, I've either enjoyed the ride or got tired of songs because of my mood at the time, a fairly binary response that might be experienced by more people then just myself. Most songs have their place in your life's moments, and when you try to appreciate the album some days, it will just feel bland and uninteresting. It's the other times when the sonic landscape is allowed to wash over you that it is granted strength and suddenly sounds awesome again. At least, this has been my experience with trance so far. 
Production value throughout the work is liquid clear and confident between transitions. Although not immediately attention grabbing, the synthesizer atmosphere has become a distinct part of Chicane songs that sets it apart from just any electronic producer's synthesizer sets. That's really what it's all about: atmosphere that makes you feel like you are lightly floating down a river. Perhaps the interaction of layers kind of runs out of steam and has me occasionally losing interest, but as a whole, The Sum of Its Parts has this habit of bringing me back in when something subtle in the background makes itself known.

Enough about the background stuff. In my opinion, what really gives Chicane power is in the featured vocalists that take over most of the songs, as is tradition (the past has yielded collaborations with numerous vocalists that add to the song in their own way, such as Adam Young and Bryan Adams). Lisa Gerrard adds a near-operatic vocal tone to the 2 more atmospheric songs on the album, and presents herself wonderfully. Equally as lovely is the tone in Bo Bruce's voice for the song "Still With Me" that really stirs up emotion in me. I wouldn't say that the featured vocalists are the only reason why I adore one song over another one, but they play a big part in it for sure.

I think what's I'm trying to get at here is that the new Chicane album can be appreciated and enjoyed unless the listener has some beef with the genre itself. As far as trance is concerned, the album is a solid release. And if you're a picky eater, selecting a couple songs out of the bunch wouldn't do any harm either.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Review by Travis Strong

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