The Chemical Brothers are putting the finishing touches on their fourth studio album, which will feature guest appearances by Richard Ashcroft and Beth Orton.
The untitled album will be released in early 2002, according to the electronic duo's spokesperson at Astralwerks Records.
The Chemicals — Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons — have been testing some of their new material in DJ sets since last spring. One of the tracks, "It Began in Afrika," did so well the duo pressed a few copies under the alias Electronic Battle Weapon V and gave them to friends Pete Tong, Danny Tenaglia, Fatboy Slim and Paul Oakenfold.
"It Began in Afrika" has since been named the new album's first single and will be released Tuesday. The record will include the B-side "Hot Acid Rhythm 1," which their spokesperson characterized as an "electro-rasta acid trip."
Orton has collaborated with the Chemical Brothers before, singing on "Alive Alone" from their 1995 album Exit Planet Dust and "Where Do I Begin" from 1997's Dig Your Own Hole.
Ashcroft follows in the footsteps of the Charlatans UK's Tim Burgess, Oasis' Noel Gallagher and Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie, male Brits who have recorded with the duo.