The Hot Chip singer and multi-instrumentalist's second solo collection, the first sinceshowcases a familiarly bookish approach to clubland and a further progression of his work away from his main band. Hot Chip singer and multi-instrumentalist Alexis Taylor appears locked in a constant battle to shake off any form of stasis. He talked of the value in working on musical projects outside his main band during the promo stint for last year's In Our Headshighlighting how it positively affected the songwriting on that album.
Taylor's an enviable musician who gives the impression that he could turn his hand to just about anything if he tried. Even one of his side projects, the low-key collection of musicians who record under the name About Group Hot Squash - Alexis Taylor - Nayim From The Halfway Line , have sucked in an impressively broad array of styles over the course of two albums.
In Taylor released Rubbed Outa full-length solo record grazed by rough production values and, on occasion, a Clike slackness to the playing. It felt like he was enjoying the deliberate looseness after spending so long on the tightly wound constructions Hot Chip create, and that feeling of shaking off the slightly stuffy studio creations of his main band has become something of a theme to his work elsewhere. Listen closely enough and Hot Squash - Alexis Taylor - Nayim From The Halfway Line may Ako Ang Nagtanim - Mabuhay Singers - Tayoy Umawit hear the sound of Taylor pumping air into the studio through a gigantic set of billows.
Instead, it's Taylor hopping back and forth over the line he's drawn between Hot Chip and his other output. The sense of organization and efficiency that his other band practices is more present here-- it's less demo-y and spontaneous than either Rubbed Out or About Group. The Hot Squash - Alexis Taylor - Nayim From The Halfway Line arcs in the air with just the right weight behind it, Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman is caught off his line, and Nayim achieves immortality from a moment of rare beauty.
There's no obvious link between that incident and the music here, but it does further emphasize Taylor's less earnest approach to the presentation of his non-Hot Chip material. The title lies in stark contrast to the contents inside. There's a familiarly bookish approach to clubland that pervades throughout, matched to the kind of suffocatingly dense production values that make Able To Love (German Version) - Benny Benassi - Hypnotica (DVD) feel like everything has been labored over a little too long.
That doesn't prevent moments of inspiration from arising, it's just that too often they're dragged down by hackneyed devices such as pitch-shifted vocal passages "Rhodes Dream" and small loops left to echo into eternity in an attempt at creating ambience "Jesus' Birthday".
The sense of departure that resonates throughout his other non-Hot Chip work is strangely absent. It feels like a step back to the kind of improvisation that lit up his other work away from his main band, momentarily returning to the sense of freedom and release entrenched in those recordings. The overriding feeling of this EP is one of finding a home for loose ideas that had been hanging around for a while.
It's too bad Taylor couldn't find more room for his reedy, utterly soulful vocal passages, such as the ones that briefly light up "Hot Squash". He's got the kind of voice that can easily transcend the trite sentimentality that sometimes infects his writing. Similarly, Nayim's titular goal could be argued over as a piece of supreme skill and judgement or a blind hit-and-hope moment. Here, the latter just about wins out over the former.
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