By Jimmy Chamberlin Complex
This release sees the return of rock veteran Jimmy Chamberlain, getting behind his drum kit again following his involvement in some of the most memorable musical moments of the 90s, as drummer for both Smashing Pumpkins and Zwan. 'Life Begins Again' seems to be quite a fitting title as Jimmy Chamberlain Complex sees him taking his creativity to previously untouched levels, citing the album's lyrical concept as the 'freedom of the spirit', which presumably he has experienced as a result of leaving his band-mates behind and embarking on a solo career.
However, 'Life Begins Again' is one of those releases that I feel I should love and appreciate as a piece of musical genius, but which is actually one that leaves me a little bored and with virtually no desire to listen to it again. The album is, not surprisingly, driven by powerful drums, which even with my other criticisms I cannot pick fault with. The tracks range from dark and moody to sweet and unearthly and the intense instrumentals display the drums as, rather than fading into the background or merely keeping together the rest of the music, a primary instrument. The guitars too are quite powerful, yet the sheer quantity of the instrumentals causes them to become rather undistinguishable from one another. I felt like I was hearing the same thing over and over again and though it was clearly sophisticated, quality music, surely a cut-above that made by most other bands today, I lost all enthusiasm as the CD went on, feeling much more jaded than spiritually inspired. Guest vocals on some tracks are contributed by the likes of Bill Medley ('Lullabye'), Rob Dickson ('Love is Real') and Billy Corgan ('Loki Cat') providing a variety of sounds, nevertheless, I think this caused me even further problems. I felt that whilst during the instrumentals I had been pining for something different, here I wanted some consistency in vocals, I wanted to pin down the sound as a band, yet I guess this is not what Jimmy Chamberlain Complex is about.
Chamberlain worked alongside friend, colleague and multi-instrumentalist Billy Mohler, an L-A based songwriter who has worked with everyone from Macy Gray to Fred Durst. Mohler provides the vocals on 'Newerwaves' and this proves to be one of the highlights of the album. Dark, moody and atmospheric it is a truly powerful song, which kinda makes me wish that they had perhaps stuck to this partnership as a whole. This is not to say that the other vocalists are not up to scratch, 'Loki Cat' on which it is Billy Corgan who takes the lead vocals, is another highlight of the album. Yet, I couldn't help but be left with an altogether disjointed impression.
Some of you will love 'Life Begins Again'. You will see it as a work of genius and will be thoroughly excited by it. Personally, I found it mainly dull and uninspiring, and yet I still can't shake off the feeling of musical ignorance. I can see that it is musically sound, yet it just doesn't grab me where it should and so all I can do from here is leave it up to you to decide.