About Group | 01/01/70

Anyone with any preconceptions based on what the esteemed band members comprising About Group have achieved in the past, would be well advised to leave them at the door when approaching their new record ‘Start and Complete’, because in keeping with the beautifully unorthodox genesis of the band itself, it’s a record that will undoubtedly surprise.

Comprising Alexis Taylor (Hot Chip), Charles Hayward (This Heat), John Coxon (Spring Heel Jack, Spiritualized) and Pat Thomas, who has played with the likes of Derek Bailey, Tony Oxley and others, the band originally formed to make a record of improvised music for the Treader label in 2009, having never played together as a whole before the day it took them to make their first album. After a clutch of live performances (supporting Gang Gang Dance, playing Ornette Coleman’s Meltdown Festival and even Glastonbury, among others) they regrouped to record this album.

In order to create the record in as spontaneous a manner as possible, some, but not all of the songs Taylor had written over the past few years, were distributed in demo form on CDs to the band members just a few days before the studio date, ensuring that no one would know the songs well enough to have specific parts in mind. As a result ‘Start and Complete’ was recorded in one day at Abbey Road, Studio 2, and mixed over three days on Conny Plank’s old desk at Mark Ralphs’s London Studio.

Subsequently ‘Start and Complete’ is a collection of songs that blur the line between improvisation and good ol’ fashioned songwriting structure, as intimate sounding as the environment in which they were created. It’s in no way an ‘in your face’ record, but something far more thoughtful, engineered by the group’s instincts to create subtle shifts in the music’s direction and tone, something which becomes even more apparent when Thomas’ electronic flourishes take centre stage at points throughout the album.

On 'Don’t Worry' and 'Lay Me Down', Taylor’s keyboard vamps, along with Coxon and Taylor's wah guitars and the shuffling beat, suggest what a vintage Muscle Shoals session might sound like in the abstract. And on their re-interpretation of Harvey Averne/Terry Riley’s 'You’re No Good', the band stretch out over ten minutes. Locking into a groove they cut loose into a sustained Kosmiche workout, propelled by one of Hayward’s signature and unique drum parts and Coxon’s almost-soloing on the guitar – showing they are as adept at a head-nodding jam as the elegant constructions of the album’s shorter pieces. Taken in total, “Start and Complete” is a richly rewarding and constantly fascinating listening experience, not to mention an inspired act of musicianship which pays off with handsome dividends.

'Start and Complete is released on Domino on 18th April 2011 and is available on CD and digitally.

Pre order 'Start and Complete'


Charles (This Heat, Camberwell Now)
John (Spring Heel Jack, Spiritualized)
Pat (has played with Derek Bailey, Tony Oxley)
Alexis (Hot Chip)

The tracklisting for 'Start and Complete' is as follows:

Married To The Sea (a)
Don’t Worry
With Each New Day
Repair Man
Lay Me Down
A Perspective
There’s a Way To End This Run of Doubt
A Sinking Song
Nothing But Words
You’re No Good
Rough and Smooth
Start and Complete
Dreamt I Saw You Late Last Night
Married To The Sea (b)

Catch a glimpse of About Group performing ‘You’re No Good' here: