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The Prodigy emerged from the underground world of electronic dance music and entered the global mainstream in 1996 when they released the last great slice of oppositional pop of the 20th century: "Firestarter".
The first broadcast of the song's monochrome video brought with it a wave of outrage from all the usual quarters.
However, for Howlett, this process has a deeper resonance.
This is to be the first all-new song by his band, The Prodigy, since their hugely successful album The Fat of the Land back in 1997.
Gratifyingly, it represents a return to form, and a breathtaking one, although it's more than a year behind schedule and The Prodigy's "group identity" has mutated almost out of recognition.
But behind the chewed-over gossip about why it took so long for the band to make their move - "writer's block", "lost muse", "studio fatigue" and so on - there lies another, more interesting and complicated story, one which cuts to the heart of the way pop music works, which raises questions about the way we "see" music through the filter of the media and which, of course, explores the implosive power of massive international success.
At the time, Flint protested indignantly that people might assume that he was endorsing the drink.
In performance, front men Keith Flint and Maxim indulged in self-parodying, expletive-ridden mid-song adlibs and pranced around in daft costumes (Flint as Uncle Fester at Reading Festival in 1998, Maxim in a variation on the gentleman's skirt).
The Prodigy package had become all mouth and trousers.
Take the release of the equally shocking single "Smack My Bitch Up" (1997), which on the surface at least comes off as an ode to misogyny.
This time round there were no vocals by old Beelzebub himself and the video depicted not the band but, in a witty twist, a young woman on a hedonistic binge (drugs, alcohol, violence and lesbianism: all standard-issue mid-Nineties ladette obsessions).Every few minutes he goes to work on computers, mixing desk, effects, samplers, all the tricky paraphernalia of the modern studio, to make the kind of modifications only the music's creator can hear in the torrent of sound.