The Prodigy are often said to be the symbolic, if not the factual, godfathers of rave music. The rave scene in the early ‘90s was dominated in different regions by different subgenres of techno and electronica. What the entire scene shared, however, is the underground nature of dance music. The Prodigy, along with Chemical Brothers, Junkie XL, Fatboy Slim, Crystal Method and others who made up the big beat sound, may have started within that scene or been inspired by it, but became the mainstream totems of the underground sound. It would be fair to say that Prodigy did for underground electronic dance music (or “rave music”) what Nirvana did for grunge.

And they took it a step further. The Prodigy were innovators and not only fueled themselves with the sound of the underground but pushed it further and fed back into it. Fat of the Land was one of the first of such records which crossed a line into something more like electro-punk. Though the signature of the big beat sound was hard-hitting breaks, dark synths and repetitive samples, The Prodigy added bizarre and almost jarring lyrical verses from former dancer, vocalist Keith Flint, who performed with all of the punk attitude of Johnny Rotten brought to a crashing and modern electronic music platform. It was a huge experiment, and it worked.

With this sort of legacy, it’s fair to hope that whatever came next would continue to push the limits, exploit modern sounds and offer up something new. But their latest is the opposite. As a colleague succinctly put it, No Tourists, “sounds like a love letter to a ‘90s rave”. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s more of an exercise in nostalgia than what you’d hope from producer Liam Howlett, who once redefined and topped himself \with every subsequent record.

Opener “Need Some1” starts off strong with a solo NRG-style synth riff and a big beat break which sets up anticipation for one hell of a ride. Yet the introduction of the house music vocal sample “I need someone” is the first sign of problems. The track never really goes beyond that moment. “Light up the Sky” is so close in aesthetic to the band’s break-out hit “Firestarter” that you can at once celebrate it having been revisited here and be a little disappointed that they’re choosing to mine old tropes. This track has everything from vintage acid worms to more pitched up vocal samples.

The appearance of Ho99or on “Fight Fire with Fire” is notable. As on 2015’s “The Day is My Enemy,” featuring blue collar pseudo-hip-hop-spoken-word duo Sleaford Mods, the group keeps their pulse on new acts that build on the ground that The Prodigy broke. Ho99or are not yet a huge name but are critically beloved as the forefront in bridging genres like hip-hop, punk and hardcore.

Fans of old Prodigy material will enjoy No Tourists, but as tastes evolve, those who enjoyed that sound back then are very likely to have evolved with electronic music. This is a fun romp through the past, but it offers nothing to the future or even the present of electronic music.

  • Holy Hell! The Fat of the Land Turns 20

    In 1997, the Prodigy hit that sweet spot in the middle of big beat, rave and industrial mu…
  • Revisit: The Prodigy: Experience

    Aided by the efforts of large-scale production companies and even larger business entities…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Check Also

The 1975: A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships

So what do you expect from The 1975? …