So much ink has been spilled all over the world about this album in the last three years. The crazy thing is, "Night Drive" as we know it was never meant to be officially released. Originally intended only to be the cdr demo version of the incomplete album burned for a handfull of dates in California. That was the end of summer 2007. At that time, Chromatics was mostly unknown throughout the world. With only a handfull of bootlegged demos floating through the ethernet, the music was far off the radar of the music industry. No one had any clue what was around the corner. Soon the press would get ahold of it, & the album would spread like wildfire overnight. The rough mix was done in Portland on a lunar eclipse the night before Chromatics left for their first leg of performances with new singer Ruth Radelet.
The record opens at the end of a long night with our heroine making a phone call to her lover. He asks her to pick up a bottle of wine. In the distance through the muffled walls of a sweaty nightclub you can hear the dj's closing their set with the Mirage banger, "Lady Operator." She drives to the coast to clear her head. Gripping the wheel with the throb of "Night Drive" she takes control. As the hi hat attacks your speakers, her hair blows in the breeze. This is the opening of the record that continues to define Chromatics' unique sound. The extreme juxtaposition of raw frailty against jagged violence.
Feeling out of place & dead with no reflection, they question the line between birth & mortality in songs like "I Want Your Love" & "Mask."
The music is drenched in reverb echoeing the death of hope & the price of nostalgia. The most powerful example of this is their daring take on the Kate Bush classic, "Running Up That Hill," a favorite amongst fans & critics alike. Chromatics has been closing their captivating live sets with this song every night. With ethereal songs like "Tomorrow Is So Far Away," "Tick Of The Clock," & "Let's Make This A Moment To Remember," they give the listener the space to breathe. We get a glimpse of their chequered past with the post punk sheen of Joy Division on "Healer".
After three years, why is the final version just surfacing now? Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. In a recent interview Johnny Jewel was quoted, "It was so hectic mixing that record. Everything imaginable went wrong. From Ruth burning her hand the night we had to finish the vocal takes, to the tapes getting overheated on the reels, to the final mix of the fourth side getting lost in the mail on the way to the pressing plant. Of course i didn't make a cd copy of the mix either. Adam & I started to think this record was cursed & we were never going to get it out. When it came time to do a string of shows on the west coast, we still didn't have the final mix. So we decided to make a temporary cdr version of the first three sides. We were burning them on laptops while we were driving down the 101. Then the press got ahold of that demo & everything exploded. To make things even more ridiculous, Italians Do It Better was broke. The label was basically nonexistent, it was really only a concept of mine & Mike Simonetti's. Still in the infant stages of coming together. We had an order from stores & distributers worldwide for over 5000 "Night Drive" cds overnight, but couldn't even press them. You gotta remember this was three years ago before "B/E/A/T/B/O/X" was out, & before "After Dark" was available digitally, so we had no money coming in. All this buzz & no releases available. It was such a joke. I remember we had to borrow money from a distributer to press the first three hundred eighty discs. We just kept flipping the cds...the more we sold...the more we made. In the back of my mind, I always figured the tapes would show up, but they never did. Then last year when I moved to Montreal, I had to change my address with the post office in the states. Two months later, the original tapes somehow returned to my old apartment in Portland where Ida lives now. Lost in purgatory at a dead letter office in northern California that whole time. It seemed like it had to be an omen. So we decided to have the whole thing remastered in it's entirety & finally pressed to vinyl. We want to say thankyou so much to everyone who let this record into their lives, we love you! & Now it's finally finished."
The lost side of the album is dark & abstract. Opening with the almost funerial "Shining Violence". Where detuned analog synths collide & struggle to hang onto a fading melody. Followed by the sleeper hit, "Circled Sun", & the Vangelis inspired reflection of life's duality in "The Gemini". Looking into a broken mirror, Ruth is more vulnerable than ever with the bare bones bass & vocal of "Bell". "Night Drive" closes with an arpeggiated musical refrain from the beginning of Side One. "Acelerator" reinterprates elements of "Night Drive's" chord progression while leaning heavily on the gear shift. As painted lines in the road begin to strobe, Chromatics propels full speed ahead into an uncertain future.
Published: 22nd October 2010