Chrome - Half Machine from the Sun (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Half Machine from the Sun (2013)

King of Spades Records

While Chrome had a substantial Bay Area following during their original run, they never quite garnered the recognition of their punk or psyche contemporaries. The reason for that is because in every sense of the word, Chrome were faaaaaaaaaaar out. Chrome were punk personified in concept, but about as far away from Ramones as one could get musically. For the most part, people didn't get it. Now that society has had 30 years to catch up, its clear how groundbreaking they were–music that clanked along like machinery, synthesizers that hissed out evil intonations, tape experiments, and Damon Edge's and Helios Creed's ghostly, robotic voices. So it's a boon that three decades after the pair stopped working together, Half Machine from the Sun, an album of what is essentially outtakes from the band's classic period, has been released. What's even more surprising is how amazing these tracks are.

Most notably is that Half Machine from the Sun is perhaps Chrome's most approachable album. The band would often start with standard 4/4 song structures before wigging out into near cacophony; here, they do get far out–robotic voices, machine clanking, purposeful repetition that grows in intensity–but while the band zag out, for the most part, a driving drumbeat that is as much Kraftwerk as it is Neal Smith drives the proceedings, keeping it entirely strange but entirely listenable. Meanwhile, both Creed and Edge call out in their creepy voices, suggesting sci-fi horror amongst a thumping backdrop.

"Looking At Your Door" exemplifies the album's merits. Although it's nearly nine minutes long and maintains an unfaltering steady driving beat, it feels like its about two, due to the song's continual shifting. At first the pair suggest the persona of a stalker, then the song shifts to their sci-fi, horrorish sound effects, before shifting to Creed's Hawkwind-inspired guitar. That's not to say that all tracks are mechanical. "Tomorrow, Yesterday" is built around a stomping, loose drum while heavily distorted vocals buzz in the background and creed solos up front.

It's no surprise Chrome never really got their recognition–this band were far ahead of their time. What is surprising is that here, the band maintain their incredibly unique, strange identity, but make is so digestible. One almost wonders if the band buried this not because they didn't like it, but because it would invite too many people into their strange universe. Heavy, dark, and menacing. Truly, a long lost classic.