Music

See Exclusive Images From the New Chemical Brothers Book ‘Paused in Cosmic Reflection’

35 years ago, the trajectory of electronic music history shifted when Ed Simons met Tom Rowlands at the University of Manchester. Then students, the pair would go on to comprise one of the most celebrated electronic acts in the history of the then-nascent genre, after they united as The Chemical Brothers.

The three and a half decades of shows, albums and block-rockin’ beats that have ensued since are under the microscope in the latest Chemical Brothers offering, Paused in Cosmic Reflection. Out today (May 7) via Mobius publishing, the retrospective book unpacks, in often granular detail, the Brothers’ mythology from the earliest days as students to rising U.K. stars to genre trendsetters and worldwide heroes.

Along with extensive interviews with the duo themselves, the book feature new interviews with friends and collaborators, including Noel Gallagher, Wayne Coyne, Beth Orton, Michel Gondry and Beck. The 300-plus-page Paused In Cosmic Reflection also includes many rare and and never-before-seen photographs. Assembled by Robin Turner, the book is dedicated to Stuart “Jammer” James, the group’s longtime tour manager, who died in 2015.

Speaking to Billboard about the book last September, Simons offered, “I guess there’s no end date, but we are nearer to the end of The Chemical Brothers than we are the beginning… It has been good to reflect and remember some history. I guess you’ve got to do it before you start forgetting everything, and I’ve got a really good memory.”

“He remembers, like, every small gig above a barber shop we ever did,” added Rowlands. “Then someone would produce a photograph of it and I’d be like, ‘Oh, gotcha. Maybe we did do that…’ But one of the things about our band is, we don’t like stopping and reflecting. I always want to move on to the next thing. This book really felt like stopping and reflecting.”

See exclusive images from the book below.

Paused Cosmic
Paused in Cosmic Reflection

“Early on, Oasis was accepted as part of that culture,” Noel Gallagher says in the book. “Mixmag gave Definitely Maybe full marks and an incredible review when it came out. When I picked up the guitar and started to write again, the inclusiveness of the lyrics in house music showed up in my songs and became a big part of it. A song like ‘Live Forever’ would never have existed and wouldn’t have been called that before acid house. It would have been melancholy. The euphoria of acid house was so engrained in me, I was so into it and what I loved about it was the inclusivity. Songs were about us, they weren’t personal, they were about the collective. I adopted that and put it into my music.”

Paused Cosmic
Paused in Cosmic Reflection
Paused Cosmic
Paused in Cosmic Reflection

“There were a few electronic bands playing live in the early nineties,” Simons says of the group’s early days. “We’d gone to see Kraftwerk when we were at university in 1991 and Tom had been in [prior dance act] Ariel, so we knew it was something that could happen, but initially we just DJed. We got offered to do [the club night] Sabresonic very early on; we’d only done a handful of remixes and [Chemical Brothers EP] Fourteenth Century Sky was just out. From the very start, we knew we didn’t want to be in the spotlight on stage. We decided that we wanted to have visuals projected right on top of us. And lots of strobes. That ethos has been the same for every gig we’ve played in the 30-odd years since.”

Paused Cosmic
Paused in Cosmic Reflection
Paused Cosmic
Paused in Cosmic Reflection

“Ultimately, I think The Chemical Brothers have a great predilection for exploration,” says Beck, who worked with the duo on 2015’s “Wide Open” and 2023’s “Skipping Like a Stone.” “Their records always seem to take you to different places. They kind of sit in an unusual place between different eras of electronic music and DJ culture. It’s like they have one foot in multiple decades at the same time in a way that is utterly unique among their peers.”

Paused Cosmic
Paused in Cosmic Reflection

“[1997 sophomore album] Dig Your Own Hole was us giving free rein to all of the different influences that were feeding into us from all around the world,” says Simons. “It was the most extreme expression of that, one where you could have a track like ‘It Doesn’t Matter’ sitting alongside ‘The Private Psychedelic Reel’. They’re completely different forms of music but they each evolved from everything that was channelled in, that fed into the making of Dig Your Own Hole. For us, our sound was entirely natural. It wasn’t something we sat down and pondered, tried to perfect. We had no intention of making a pure electronic dance record; we always wanted all of those external forces to be reflected.”

Paused Cosmic
Paused in Cosmic Reflection

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