The music making partnership of Alexis Taylor, Joe Goddard, Owen Clarke, Al Doyle and Felix Martin came into existence in gradual stages, and has culminated in their third album ‘Made In The Dark’ the follow up to the gold selling, Mercury Music Prize nominated album ‘The Warning’. The nuclei of the band is Taylor and Goddard, school friends who found common ground and began to make home recordings using an odd assortment of cheap synthesizers, guitars and percussion. Clarke, another school friend, joined the duo soon after, impressing them with his quick-witted playing and rather devious musical experiments.
The end product of this era was the first full Hot Chip album 'Coming on Strong', released by Moshi Moshi Records. ‘The Warning' represented a great step forward in terms of songwriting and production, though the album was still recorded exclusively at home and without recourse to a professional studio (though they were grateful to DFA for the offer). Al Doyle and Felix Martin, already members of the band as well at work on their own musical projects, now joined the band full time as Hot Chip took off as a live entity, performing in the United States, the UK and Europe. The sound of the band evolved towards wilder, heavier electronics, though still coupled with a signature pop aesthetic.
‘The Warning’ stood out a mile when it was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize last year, it’s combination of forward thinking pop production, love of 2 step garage and sheer eclecticism captured the essence of rave without, at times, sounding anything like it. From the delicate wistfulness of ‘Colours’, and the dizzying, almost nonchalant melodies of ‘Boy From School’ to the exquisite heartbreak of the ‘Look After Me’ Hot Chip showed they were equally at home creating songs of intimacy and melancholy as they were Fabric floor fillers. The standout track from ‘The Warning’ was the bruising single ‘Over and Over’ an immediate call to arms that delivered a sly dig to those who heard them as too chilled the first time round. ‘Laid back? We’ll give you laid back!’ From magical bells, chimes and glockenspiels of the opening to the layers to the thumping beats that follow the magnificent repetition was seemingly in all of us when ‘Over and Over’ was nominated for an Ivor Novello award and was voted NME’s number 1 single of 2006. Remixes for the likes of the Rolling Stones, Scissor Sisters, The Go! Team, and Gorillaz were fashioned before Hot Chip split the duties on a 2 track 12” reworking of ‘Aerodynamik’ and ‘La Forme’ from Kraftwerks’ Tour De France Soundtracks LP that was given a limited release on the German pioneers ‘Klang Klang Product’ label. They then went on to compile their sublime and acclaimed DJ Kicks album in May this year.
Hot Chip have been informed by 2 years of touring across the globe taking in Australia and Japan and are about to embark on a tour of South America. Incredibly they sold out Somerset House in under a day. Live music has always been at the heart of the band, so it seems inevitable that the new album 'Made In The Dark' captures some of the band's performances in a more traditional, rock music fashion. Powerful amplifiers, keyboards and distortion have all crept into the Hot Chip arsenal. This tougher sound is no more evident than on the Todd Rungden sampling anthem ‘Shake A Fist’ which created a massive stir when it crept out earlier this year on a limited etched 12”. ‘Made In The Dark’ showcases more ballads from Hot Chip than ever before and a great appreciation of deep soul. Alexis’ voice sounds as tender and beautiful as ever evoking an angelic sensuality of folk acts such as Bonnie Prince Billy and Richard and Linda Thompson. Title track ‘Made In The Dark’ and ‘We’re Looking For A Lot Of Love’ are perfect examples.
Soulful introspections aside songs such as ‘Bendable Poseable’ provide further rhythmical chaos and ‘Ready For The Floor’ and ‘One Pure Thought’ add pure, unadulterated head rush pop into the mix. No song sounds the same but each has it's place, no surprise coming from songwriters who grew up on "Sign 'O' The Times" and "The White Album" This is a record recorded largely at home and produced entirely by the band (with valuable help from live sound engineer Jonathan Digby). Remarkably, tracks such as ‘Hold On’ and ‘Out At The Pictures’ were recorded fully live as band and in one take. Throughout ‘Made In The Dark’ there are echoes of earlier songs and styles, steps forwards, backwards and sideways. Clarke's signature guitar and keyboard riffs, Doyle's high calibre musicianship and Martin's programming skills have combined with the considerable talents of Goddard and Taylor in a way making the songs even more propulsive, repetitive, rhythmical, methodical, wonky, intimate and beautiful than before.