It's hard not to root for a new Wu-Tang album to be great. Then again, it's also difficult to not compare it to their best work from previous years. Whether that's unfair or not, you be the judge. All I know for sure is that Chamber Music has the potential to be great, and at times, it definitely is, but it is also frustratingly short, and much of its most interesting instrumentation is tossed off on interludes.
There are only eight actual songs on this 17-track album. The rest are skits with RZA waxing rhapsodic about various facets of the Wu philosophy.
That said, almost all of the songs are killer, but their most interesting feature is their simplicity. As opposed to the RZA productions in the mid-'90s that had six or seven samples mashed up in them, these tracks are mostly very straightforward. "Kill Too Hard" is an organ hit and a string fill, "I Wish You Were Here" is a melancholy soul loop and "Ill Figures" is little more than than a neck-cracking beat and a mid-range bassline.
Guest shots from Masta Ace, Sean Price, Cormega, Sadat X, Havoc and others keep it from being the strict Wu-Tang affair that past clan records have been, but everything works.