Facing legal action from the American team with the same moniker, Manchester’s Dust Brothers — players/producers Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons — became the Chemical Brothers in time for the release of Exit Planet Dust, one of the strongest debut techno albums of the mid-’90s. Before crystallizing their own vision, the DJs/musicians spent much of the early part of the decade making singles under their original handle and doing remixes for such British bands as Bomb the Bass, the Charlatans, Manic Street Preachers, Primal Scream and Saint Etienne.
Exit Planet Dust begins with the fiery “Leave Home,” a euphoric musical concoction that rides a driving fuzz-bassline and drum track and incorporates edgy, distorted guitar and a vocal loop from Blake Baxter’s “Brothers Gonna Work It Out.” The song combines the power of punk and metal with the cut-up creativity of techno and hip-hop. Though nothing else on Exit Planet Dust reaches that dizzying peak, the remainder is nearly as hard-hitting. Fittingly, “In Dust We Trust” shows off the duo’s turntable scratching prowess, while a live-in-clubland version of the Brothers’ original nightlife hit, “Song to the Siren,” layers screeching voices into a minimal collage of sirens and other urban sounds. The album’s only weakness is its sequencing, which kicks an odd change of pace near the end, importing actual singing voices and more traditional pop structure to “Life Is Sweet” (which features Tim Burgess of the Charlatans) and the folk-flavored, ambient dub of “Alive Alone” (Beth Orton).
The 1996 EP combines a remix of the album’s “Chemical Beats” with “Loops of Fury” and two other new tracks.
Brotherhood is a greatest hits package with a bonus disc of experimental tracks billed as “Electronic Battle Weapons.”