Chrome Hoof: Funk with Robes

At England’s annual Big Chill Festival, an outdoor music event in a charming wooded park in Herefordshire, the London band Chrome Hoof blitzed the audience with a 40-minute arsenal of their trademark metal disco.

The ten-piece ensemble’s sound is unmistakably jittery and spacey, combining 1970s funk with electronica and metal. Their look sets them apart as well: quite unlike their bearded, skinny-jean clad peers, Chrome Hoof prefers silvery sequinned monk’s robes.

The full blog post, on the London-based band Chrome Hoof, is at INTELLIGENT LIFE and also here, after the jump.

Dancing a frenzy near the stage during much of their set was a little girl wearing butterfly wings and a T-shirt that read “If I’m lost call my Mommy at this number”.

“The majority of music is easy to follow, but we give people something to think about,” says Milo Smee, who created the band ten years ago with his brother Leo Smee, originally as a bass-drum duo. “We have no rulebook. And I don’t really care what people think about it.”

Chrome Hoof mixes a heavy dose of 1970s Parliament funk with some Motorhead, Iron Maiden and a few prog-metal jolts (a la the Mars Volta). The band’s theatrics seem inspired by Arthur Brown, a flamboyant English rock musician, while their songs are structured to resemble those of Pink Floyd, King Crimson and Goblin, a rather obscure 1970s Italian rock band.

Milo and Leo have tapped some friends to join the group over the years, leading to a sound that shifts—sometimes effortlessly, sometimes jarringly—from solid, tight, funky disco in minor keys to strange, un-danceable operatic passages that Lola Olafisoye, the lead singer, floats over with heavy echo effects. The result is a musical experience that inspires both wild dancing and confused head-scratching. The group rarely rehearses. “We don’t make any money,” says Leo. “This is theatre.”

The band’s current lineup includes an electric violin, cello, alto sax, trumpet, bassoon, two guitars, samplers and keyboards, which allows the music to traverse multiple landscapes. The violinist, for example, manages to make her instrument sound like a wall of alternative guitar noise.

“People don’t know what to make of it,” says Leo. “We’ve been boo-ed, but lots of people stay, and some of them go mental. I’ve been in bands before where you just stare at the floor. [Chrome Hoof] is a musical journey.” The band tours only occasionally and has never played gigs in America. So is Chrome Hoof inherently—and indefinitely—British? “Yes. We complain, but we’re proud of how we do things,” says Milo. “Britain is a weird, cut-off place, but I love our dry humour. We love England, and love living in London.”

Chrome Hoof begins a two-month European tour on September 3rd

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