It’s a sad day in the world of electronic music with the news of Keith Flint’s passing and, with it, a huge cornerstone of the genre missing. I’ll admit, I’ve been guilty of disregarding Flint’s effect upon The Prodigy’s sound and the popularisation of rave music that came with it. However, as I dug deeper into their music, particularly milestones like The Fat of the Land, his impact on it was undeniable.
So, today, we’re going to have an appreciation of that with the quintessential Prodigy track, 1996’s Firestarter, from The Fat of the Land. Check the video below:
With this album, for many their mainstream breakthrough, The Prodigy exploded as this demented crossbreed of hardcore dance music with this stylised punk attitude. As the first single from that record, in coupling with that iconic music video, the group made no bones that they were not the dungaree sporting ravers that they were — sporting a new look of anarchy and violence in their music.
As embedded as it is within pop culture, that instrumental never ceases to be exciting for me. Aside from the rapid-fire breakbeats Liam Howlett employs, punctuated by that booming pound, the winding sirens that weave over the track are simply ominous, and deadly. The heavily distorted guitars forming that iconic riff are so bewilderingly displacing that you’re injected with this methadone of dysphoria in the song’s opening seconds. Over this, Keith venomously spits lines that personify a riot, plain and simple. Endlessly antagonistic, his presence on this track is akin to a roman candle made of pills and daggers.
As much as Firestarter isn’t my favourite Prodigy track and it is their Teen Spirit in a sense (it’s dominated much of Keith’s obituaries), it is the song that blew Prodigy up on a world stage, and much of that was to do with Flint’s influence over it. The best bands always go through massive stylistic evolution and, for better or for worse, Keith Flint brought that revolution for The Prodigy, and that can’t be understated.
There’s no such as thing as too late:
Samaritans (UK): 116 123
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (US): 1-800-273-8255
Lots of hugs, kisses and lacerations