What is it? : A few years after decimating the audience’s expectation of electronic music and conquering American airwaves, the Prodigy’s mastermind Liam Howlett sealed himself in the lab until he had created a mix that established not only his street cred but also his enviable prowess as a world-class music mixologist and formidable purveyor of moods. Dirtchamber is that mix.
Why should it be on vinyl? : To be honest, I was shocked to see that it isn’t and never has been (at least as far as I can tell from copious internet searching). The irony of this is staggering: here we have a DJ mix created by an artist who grew up using vinyl; the source music is a smattering of classics from the 70s through 90s, most of which are on vinyl; undoubtedly Howlett used some vinyl in the creation of the mix to begin with. So what gives? This is a love letter to vinyl DJ culture that has never been pressed on that very same format.
That being said, I will grant there are some challenges with this, namely that the work is a nearly continuous mix. At some point, a break in it will have to be manufactured for listeners to flip the record. This is a nuisance, to be sure, and it would slightly disrupt enjoyment, but it isn’t even close to a reason not to do it.
As of this writing, Keith Flint, the charismatic frontman for the group has been dead for just about one month. He himself had very little to do with this album since it is really an essentially solo effort by Liam Howlett, but the proximity effect could work wonders here in terms of how the release would be received by a public that is still in grieving mode. The last thing I want to do here is cynically point out that the fact of Flint’s tragic death could be a boon to possible record sales for the group…but that is the reality of the situation. Delving too much more into it would be a bit crass here, it is a little too soon. However, if I put on my money-making hat, this is a more than valid reason to press this and reissue other releases in the group’s catalog.
Check out this tracklist including source samples as identified by Wikipedia - it’s glorious, and it deserves its moment of rediscovery on vinyl.