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About Group – Start and Complete

on May 18, 2011, 7:57am
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Jazz/electronic improvisers About Group turn to the unconventional for their music making. Hot Chip lead vocalist Alexis Taylor leads the group, which includes John Coxon from Spiritualized, Charles Hayward from This Heat, and Pat Thomas, who has worked with the likes of Derek Bailey. On their sophomore release, Start and Complete, the band’s out-of-the-ordinary recording style might just be to the detriment of the record. Start and Complete never really gets started.

The group recorded Start and Complete in the famous Studio 2 at Abbey Road in a single day. Taylor gave his bandmates only some of the written material prior to recording, which allowed plenty of room for improvisation. They relied on the same method for their first release, though it was under a different band name and label. The method clearly works on some tracks, but, as a whole, Start and Complete begins to fizzle out early on.

There are few tracks on the album that are really worth the listen. “Don’t Worry” is an early highlight, a soulful ballad, combining Taylor’s notorious warbling vocals with organs and keyboards plucked from an inspired Sunday service. “A Sinking Song” provides flashes of cymbals with primitive percussion and synths. The most enjoyable track is the 11-minute rework of Harvey Avenue/Terry Riley track “You’re No Good”. Their free-form method shines with loosely played instrumentals morphing into an endless jam, as heavy guitar licks are swapped with dreamy synths.

Start and Complete soon turns to background noise. Many of the tracks start out promising, but they don’t have the excitement needed to keep listeners hooked (see “Start and Complete” and “With Each New Day”). Tracks that begin like a long lost Hot Chip single turn bland and just aren’t engaging. With few highlights, future releases from the band would benefit from allowing the album to become what “You’re No Good” was: an experiment.

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