(out of 5)
When Helios Creed announced on his Facebook page that he was compiling tracks for a new Chrome release, containing “lost” material from the Half Machine Lip Moves and Red Exposure eras, I was pretty stoked. So don’t expect the most objective review of the new Chrome release. I’m a pretty big fan of Chrome and Helios Creed so, as long as he keeps doing what he does, chances are pretty good I’ll be satisfied with it.
What is it that he does you ask? Acid/space guitar wiz Helios Creed joined Damon Edge in Chrome after the release of the first Chrome album, The Visitation, in 1977. He played on the group’s next five albums – all considered classics by fans – before starting a solo career under which he released a whole lot more albums. Damon Edge also released a bunch of albums under the Chrome name, but unlike Helios Creed’s, they apparently weren’t very good (DON’T SAY IT! I HAVEN’T HEARD ANY POST CREED CHROME ALBUMS!!!) Then, in 1995, Damon Edge passed away and Helios Creed decided to keep Chrome alive and began releasing albums as Chrome AND Helios Creed. Personally I think Helios Creed and latter day Chrome albums are pretty much interchangeable. But I have a feeling Helios Creed would disagree with that.
Half Machine from the Sun is a 73 minute long collection of 18 unreleased songs/pieces/compositions from 1979 and 1980. I’m listening to a download so I can’t give any further insight – at least until the double LP comes in the mail – so all I’m gonna do is tell you what I think of these tunes. As expected from an outtakes collection, you’re likely to have a few great songs, a few okay tunes and some incomplete sketches.
First let’s discuss the good stuff. Actually there are quite a few so I’m going to try to keep from describing each one individually. “Anything”, “Salt”, “Tomorrow Yesterday”, “Sound and Light”, “Fuckishima (Nagasiki)” and “Something Rhythmic (I Can’t Wait)” are typical of what to expect from Chrome. Each song has a basic three chord riff which is played through tons of effects pedals combined with random noises – some which provide a hook! – and processed vocals. Most of the tunes rock along to a driving mid to slightly above mid tempo. “Fukishima (Nagasaki)” is an example of the latter, a punk rock song with rewind noise and incomprehensible distorted voices for vocals, and “Something Rhythmic (I Can’t Wait)” has a pop hook. Although it’s catchy it seems to go on too long since it only has a verse and a chorus. Actually most Chrome/Helios Creed songs are pretty simple composition with one or two parts that seem to just keep repeating over and over. The stronger the riff/hook, the more you want to hear it driven into the ground. This applies to “The Inevitable”, a slow and sludgy song which is very catchy yet sounds more like a Helios Creed song than a Chrome song and “Ghost” which is also sludgy and sounds like a Helios Creed song but not as good.
Other songs I’m going to describe: “Charlies Little Problem”, has no guitar, just piano, tribal percussion and a trash can lid being hit over and over. “Autobahn Brazil” has a sexy Latin beat, samples and spacey noises; it kind of sounds like a Hawkwind slow jam. “Moog Piece”, as the title implies, is just a jam on moog synths; they create some neat sounds but it’s still far from being a complete song. “Sunset” has a pretty bass melody, some noises and above all an atypical, non 4/4 beat. Maybe it’s 5/4, I dunno! “Looking for your Door” has a dance beat! It sounds like Public Image Ltd. in outer space! I can’t say for sure but it seems that Edge and Creed just might have been listening to Metal Box prior to making this song. I mean, just the beat sounds like it comes from a PiL song! “The Rain” sounds like new wavey/goth pop, perhaps something like Wire would have done. It’s a bit too long at 6 minutes but it’s fun and neat hearing Helios Creed sing actual lyrics that I can understand!
Half Machine form the Sun has 11 or 12 good to great songs and a few neat experiments on it but the entire thing is an entertaining listen straight through. If a song isn’t spot on, at least there are weird noises to listen to. Ultimately, even if you’ve never heard Chrome before, you might still want to give this album a listen; it’s a win for the fans but not a bad introduction either.