The Chap’s new album ‘The Horse’ is a superb investigative journey. Embracing diversity and individuality with open arms, transporting it instantly to that hierarchical pedestal of ‘beyond category’. Their combinations of noise, electronics and imagination are enlightening and incomparable.
Opening with the title track ‘The Horse’, a short sharp foreword into what the record has to come. ‘Courage & Modesty’ breaks in with a heavy, lively beat. The vocals from Johannes Von Weizsacker are spoken and lo-fi. The ascending keys are distorted. The track has a disco-esque atmosphere as the beat begins to grind and build. Imagine the warped furious sounds of Daft Punk’s Rollin’ and Scratchin’ and you have the climax.
The album continues and begins to settle into its pace. The expedition takes us from difficult tempos, to watery crackles, through modem dial-ups, to piercingly high sporadic electronic notes. It crackles and leaps but always keeps the listener understanding the direction, alongside the progression. There are hummable repetitive electric guitar melodies, many head-nodding and pulsating moments and lyrics to talk/sing along with. This is not an album of total obscurity, yet it is a work of distinct ability. It is odd at times and is markedly incomparable but that is not to say the listener cannot dance around upon hearing a repetitive beat or smile at some of the eccentricities.
‘Remember Elvis Rex’ and ‘I Got Flattened By A Pig Farmer’, a previous double A single release for The Chap, stand out from the crowd. But the track which (sorry to be personal) I can safely say I would put on my Desert Island Disc album, is ‘BITSS!’ This track is a remarkable, almost prog-rock outburst of tension. Fugue-like in its layering, it suggests mania, turmoil and an ecstatic liberation towards the end. It is a huge track. Starting with a quiet, and to some extent menacing, creaking and clicking noise it is joined after some time by sustained organ chords. An electric guitar is brought in and after many bars of slowly building it cuts to an erratically plucked violin. The beat only comes in at around 3 minutes 20 and the patter over the top of the track has become feverish. In short, over 10 minutes, the track cuts to just the violin and cello’s mania and then explodes upon return with the guitar melody, the patter, the violin and cello, the bows cutting neurotically across the strings low to high, glitchy bleeps and a sense of harmonious bedlam. The track mirrors the adrenaline of the listener and vice versa.
It is impossible to categorise The Chap. There are four members, Johannes, Claire, Panos and Keith. If you have the money and are yearning for some originality you really should be buying this.
9Sophie Hilton's Score