Let’s be straight, nobody with a sane pair of ears is going to call ‘Crush Depth’ easy listening, but it’s an album of some damn fine funk, electro, and jazz to excite the ear’s taste buds.
That’s one of the polarising things about Chrome Hoof. Rarely before have a band enjoyed so many prefixes describing their type of music. The initial Google search lists them as doom/house/electro/disco - “any sound you can make by hitting something. Including a head.” Enough to scare listeners off? Not according to founder and drummer Milo Smee.
“When you describe music all you’ve got is words. The words are representative of sounds. We don’t have a problem with the different words people use to describe us. A problem can arise if I was to use a word that misrepresents the sound to another person’s ears, but that’s a phenomenon that will always be associated with music. I’d like to describe us as progressive. It’s all about pushing the music forward.”
Milo and his brother Leo consider this album to be their most thought out and precisely constructed and layered work. ‘Crush Depth’ took a year to make, and includes work written by other members of the eight-strong band, not just the two founding brothers. “It’s a more refined sound,” Leo says. “We’re a lot tighter as a group now. We’re welcoming contributions from everyone in the group, to give the sound more personality. Obviously we have to be reign it in sometimes to keep the sound focused, but there’s a lot more information in this album than the past two. More colours, more genres, more sonics. We’re interested to see what people make of it.”
Chrome Hoof - Vapourise
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The evolution of the band to get to this stage has been a slow and organic one. The Smee brothers reckon there have been forty members of Chrome Hoof since they started in 2000, but it’s more happy families than The Fall as they’ve never had to sack anyone. Now they’re down to a more-or-less constant eight members, they’re ready to bring their special brand of mentality to stages across Europe.
“We’ve always used our live show to make an impression on people,” says Leo, as his band have famously worn cloaks in the past to create an occult aesthetic on stage. “We don’t mind if not everyone gets it, but we love it when we see other artists do something incredibly creative, or destructive, just because it means something to them. We have our own way of doing that. Our live shows this year will be different, a more sinister, darker, clumsier orchestra. We take pride in it because to make a memorable live performance with no money takes imagination. Our show’s going to make the audience feel something. Even if they hate it.”
So if you get the chance to see Chrome Hoof this summer, chances are it’ll be one of the most innovative performances of the year. A mass of multitalented, terrifying musicians blasting out hardcore-funk on an array of obscure instruments. And you should try to catch them now, because they’re not a band who are going to be standing still.
The brothers, with a familial glint in their eye, let me in on a secret. “It’s funny that this album took a year to make, because we plan to do the next one in three weeks. You need to change the way you work to make new music. Thing is, the rest of the band don’t know about that yet”.
So it’s anyone’s guess how the Hoof’s sound will develop next. But, as Milo enthuses, “Music is magic. It’s a chameleon state of fashion. We just want to make new stuff that effects people. Hopefully they’ll enjoy it.”
Words by Henry Greaves
Clash Magazine Issue 51
Big Chill Festival 2010