Hot Chip, ahoy

Pub date September 17, 2008
SectionMusicSectionMusic Features

Think of a silkily sexy, deliriously polyrhythmic Hot Chip track as the rippling, bell-shaking musical incarnation of a Persian rug: beautifully detailed; seamlessly groovy; a sensuous, hip-twisting pleasure to dance to or on; and intentionally flawed.

"We hope that maybe the music ends up sounding more refined than polished — there are things we manufacture into the sound that deliberately sound like mistakes," says multi-instrumentalist Al Doyle. "We don’t want to end up sounding like Hall and Oates or something like that. That’s not the kind of sound we kind of go for, totally smoothed out."

Doyle is in a high-flying mood, strolling the streets of Camden in London with what he describes as "a bag full of fancy dress clothes. Quite strange." Hot Chip is set to play a festival on an island off the south coast of England, though, he adds merrily, "we never dress up for anything. We thought we’d do it this time. Make us feel better."

Eight years along after its origins in the hands of ex-schoolmates Alexis Taylor and Joe Goddard, the band should be feeling just fine — even if they choose not to don pirate gear for the Treasure Island Music Festival. Hot Chip’s latest, excellent album, Made in the Dark (Astralwerks), sounds like the dance-pop disc that New Order never made. Of that recording, Doyle allows, "We’ve got generally favorable reviews on Metacritics. A lot of people really liked it, and some people were confused about it initially. It’s quite an odd record, I’d say, a little bit all over the place in terms of very quite slow songs and big, loud, fast songs. Quite an experimental moment, with a few big pop hits. But we never thought it was odd. It was just the music we made."

The tracks emerged from everyday highs, like, ahem, Salvia divinorum — the inspiration for the swaying, elastic "Shake a Fist" — and were recorded by the full five-piece. "It was a transition record to a more band-oriented project," says Doyle, who happened to attend Cambridge the same time as Taylor and occasionally moonlights live with LCD Soundsystem. "It’s much more about the groove, and it’s very loud as well," Doyle says of the latter band. "It’s like a fucking bomb going off with LCD. Lasting damage!"

Hot Chip prefers to do benevolent damage to their own tunes live. "It’s much more easygoing and there’s a lot more improvisation. It’s a dance party — the audience goes nuts," he explains. The addition of a new drummer, Leo Taylor, should really make all and sundry go off, so much so that the hard-working Doyle is looking forward to the end. After tours of the United States, United Kingdom, and Mexico, "we finish at the end of the year. The holy grail that we’re all looking forward to."

Hot Chip appears at 4:25 p.m., Sat/20, on the Bridge Stage at Treasure Island Music Festival.