About Group - Between The Walls album
Between The Walls, the third album by About Group, is the latest of these extra-curricular activities, as Alexis Taylor teams up with This Heat drummer Charles Hayward, Spiritualized’s John Coxon and Derek Bailey cohort Pat Thomas to produce an album of improvisational jazz-rock. Side projects are always liable to be dismissed as peripheral exercises in titting about.
Between The Walls is About Group’s last album with Charles Hayward who now moves on to other projects. During the recording session which resulted in About Group's first album for Domino,'Start And Complete', the outfit recorded a long uninterrupted improvised take. These looped pieces all come from that recording, and appear as a second bonus disc to their new album, 'Between The Walls. The repetitions are driven by Charles Hayward's brilliant drumming, and bring to mind the loops and beats experiments of DJ Premier
Between the Walls sounds significantly more prepared than both prior outings, its many synth, organ, drum, and guitar textures more attentively placed.
For their third album, About Group is still chiseling away at the niche they’ve created as a foursome, through a mutual love of experimentation, improvisation and pop songwriting. Of the four members, Alexis Taylor is not only the biggest name working on the project, but also the most easy to identify by the work on new album, titled Between the Walls Between the Walls is strongest when it keeps the jams on songs shorter. On Words, Taylor has a keyboard-driven melody that remains unadorned at its base, similar to the vocal inclinations of James Blake. About Group manages to catch the song at its fragile points and turn it into a busy and unsettling composition, filling in the gaps with atonal elements that are hinted at in the album’s opening minutes and repeat throughout.
Between The Walls is the third album by About Group, the quartet of John Coxon, Charles Hayward, Alexis Taylor and Pat Thomas. Between The Walls captures the sound of a band 'playing' together, in both senses of the word - experimenting and trying things, being playful, as much as being a group performing as a unit together. It's the sound of people pushing towards and pulling against one another simultaneously.
The third album by Hot Chip side-project About Group can be defined by something that is oxymoronic by its very nature: focused improvisation. It's the sound of Alexis Taylor, Charles Hayward, John Coxon and Pat Thomas letting their hair down and allowing their songs to find the groove on their own, but is nonetheless driven by a sense of purpose that is unmistakable. That it's chosen to get Between the Walls going in earnest, its melancholy tone may come as a bit of a shock to Hot Chip devotees: "Make believe that you don't see the tears, Just let me grieve in private, 'cause each time I see you, I break down and cr. Taylor's voice, often clear and confident, is rendered fragile and downcast on their rendition of a classic pop song, one which strikes a markedly different tone to what we've heard from this project before.