Chicane – “Behind The Sun” 2020 Anniversary Mixes
Now I’m a huge fan of Nicholas Bracegirdle aka Chicane‘s second studio album, “Behind The Sun”, released in March 2000, incredibly twenty years ago now. Why wouldn’t anyone be? When it contained the monstrous hits “Saltwater” and “Don’t Give Up”, as well as eight other superbly atmospheric and glorious dance anthems with which to waste sixty-eight minutes of your life over. So when I heard that a 20th anniversary edition of the album was coming out, I immediately thought this was going to be a completely new interpretation of the album. Wrong! There are new remixes of all the tracks on the album, but accompanying them are all of the album tracks remastered (if they ever needed to be) that now offer nearly two and a half hours of millennial Chicane!
“Behind The Sun” was anticipated even before the turn of the new century with the release in 1999 of his clever reinterpretation of Clannad’s 1982 hit “Theme From Harry’s Game”, retuned as “Saltwater” and featuring Marie Brennan’s haunting vocals, this time set against a throbbing dance soundtrack which on the album version takes endless amounts of time to build the tension before it explodes in your face. “Saltwater” was his (Chicane’s) biggest hit yet after his debut with “Offshore” and “Sunstroke” in 1997. And as Nick entered the 2000’s, it went uber mental with his collaboration with Bryan Adams on “Don’t Give Up”. Adams and Chicane were no strangers with Nick remixing his 1999 single “Cloud Number 9”, so it was only a matter of time before Adams returned the favour and performed guest vocals on “Don’t Give Up”, which would top the UK singles chart, just two weeks before “Behind The Sun” was released.
“No Ordinary Morning” with vocals from Tracey Ackerman and “Autumn Tactics” with vocals from Justine Suissa of OceanLab were also released as commercial singles from the album, which went top ten in the UK and went on to sell over 100,000 copies there. So what do we get with this new and bumper repackaged edition? Well the “Overture” naturally comes first with some additional production from mixer Wasp, making it sound like an early 80’s sci-fi film soundtrack and very much more 3D in sound. Latvian producers Blood Groove & Kikis do the same justice to “Low Sun” giving a new reggae twist on this already gorgeous tune while in complete contrast, well established producer Steve Helstrip aka The Thrillseekers strips “No Ordinary Morning” to its bare bones with virtually no bass. This is now a chill anthem that is so much easier on the ear that the original version. And so we come to the epic “Saltwater”…
Once again this track is stripped back as a slower paced transient number, devoid of the hastiness of the original and focusing almost completely on Marie’s voice. “Halcyon” sees Nick alone review this instrumental track that was such a highlight of the original album for me and at nearly three minutes in, the pace and beat of this track picks up and never lets go of its repetitive tune. Superb. Producer and DJ Jody Wisternoff, one half of Way Out West, comes in on “Autumn Tactics” and that instantly recognisable chord of this tune echoes against a light trip-hop melody, once again lending atmosphere and style without ruining the approach of the original’s concept. “Overlap” is another anthem that benefits just from Chicane’s own intervention with the almost delicate of presence you almost feel it could break in half and end just like that. Yet again, there is a stripped and almost accapella to the biggy, “Don’t Give Up”. Allowing Bryan Adams’ voice to resonate with minimal programming and keyboards together with whispering background vocals that focuses on just the song’s hook.
And therein lies its magic and secret. Just another dance mix of this song would not be respectful. It has to be this way and sublime is not the word to use for the majesty of this new version. There is a more hard hitting version from Italian producer Giuseppe Ottaviani if that’s what you want along with two more mixes of “Saltwater” from AVIRA and Kevin de Vries sandwiched between a new remastered version of “Andromeda”, which sounds almost identical to the original…at first appearance! Compare it. You decide. This has been a wonderful trip down memory lane for an album I’ve not listened to for some time and it’s as if that was the first time I’d heard it. But with all the original tracks to follow the new mixes, I’ve been transported back to the beginning of this century and reminded just how ageless this album feels. This is definitely going be one of my most played albums of this year even it it’s attempting to find all the different sounds in the new mixes and those not previously appreciated in the original tracks!