The Chemical Brothers Don’t Think (filmed at last year’s Fuji Rock Festival in Japan) is perhaps the best example yet of testing an audience’s participatory threshold, and watching this thrilling 90-minute audio and sensory assault, it’s incredibly hard not to succumb to the urge of leaping up out of your seat and triumphantly punching the air as soon as the duo lay down that first beat.
Eschewing the traditional accompaniments associated with the genre (pre and post-gig backstage shenanigans, talking heads of fans in various states of excited and jittery anticipation) we’re thrust straight into the action as Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons (two surprisingly ordinary, nerdy-looking guys) are revealed behind a huge bank of mixing desks and modulators. With the duo introduced within a circular lighting structure, we’re lead through their blistering array of hits which are supported by a huge patchwork of stunning visual instillations, spilling out and evolving between each song.
Director Adam Smith (a long-time collaborator with the duo) understands how to add a cinematic sheen to the film, and he uses kinetic editing and some nifty post-production techniques to achieve this. Particularly effective are the huge animated human silhouettes which escape the confines of the screen and begin to float out above the crowd during ‘Swoon’. Smith also leaves behind the action on stage a couple of times, and we’re treated to some trippy sequences which wouldn’t look out of place in a Wong Kai-Wai feature, particularly a moment where a cute girl in a dreamy, euphoric state is whisked around the outer bar area, amongst friends and fellow revellers.
Throughout the event, it’s really wonderful and uplifting to see the lights and colours from the stage bouncing off the faces of thousands of enraptured Japanese fans, and the adoration the duo receive really brings home the transformative power and universal appeal of dance music. The hi-def camerawork (20 were used to record the gig) looks sensational, and both the gorgeous colour palette and crowd detail (often found in low light) are incredible. Presented in glorious Dolby 7:1 surround sound (mixed by the Chemical Brothers themselves), the big screen is really the only place to see this film.
Watching the duo in action makes you realise what an amazing body of work they have amassed over two decades on the music scene, and all the old favourites are here (the throbbing electronic riff from ‘Out of Control’ segues beautifully into the screaming psychedelic strains of ‘Setting Sun’).
This is a must for all fans and indeed anyone who is interested in seeing a truly dazzling and visceral live-action music experience adapted to the cinema screen. For best results, grab a seat in row E.
Don’t Think is on limited release now.