Friday, 18 July 2014

For Chaps and Chapesses - The Chap


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.(c) 2010 Socrates Mitsios

With flavours that include Kraftwerk, New Order and Belle and Sebastian along with their delightful pop sensibilities that infuse such a feeling of gay abandon and joy into their music, here is a band, not new by any means, that fulfil all the criteria as set down by all the greats. They are tuneful, easy listening but without that phrase being a trite insult and incredibly experimental too.
When it comes to rocking they do so with the best of them even, at one point riffing with caustic verve.

The Chap is chillingly European; architectural, crystalline, precise but not mechanical not sanitised. Flirting with the avant-garde, computer arrangements tickling the cerebrum along with the heart, they manage to remember that a good song.aimed for the chart listening public should be made with that classic three-minute structure. The fact they achieve this without compromising their experimental bent is a virtue seldom seen these days.

When I think of bands or artists that have achieved finding the holy grail of pop - intelligent, adventurous music that can both please a mainstream audience AND those of a more discerning palate- I instantly think of Revolver, Low by Bowie, Hounds of Love by Kate Bush and, as already mentioned, Power, Corruption and Lies by New Order or even Robert Wyatt's excellent Shleep..

The only puzzler for me is why they haven't received wider acclaim or recognition.


Hailing from North London, The Chap consists of five members: Keith Duncan on drums, vocals and keyboards; Panos Ghikas on bass, vocals, violin, keyboards, guitar and computer;Berit Immig on keyboards and vocals, Johannes von Weizsacker on guitar, cello, keyboards, vocals and computer; Claire Hope, vocals, keyboards and melodica.

Thus far they have produced seven strikingly good albums. All of them deserving of the odd accolade but not a whiff of a Brit Pop as yet. Whatever am I thinking? The Chap is not the sort of thing that vehicle takes to its breast. 


The albums have been...


2003: The Horse 
2005: Ham 
2008: Mega Breakfast 
2008: Builder's Brew Mini-album 
2010: Well Done Europe 
2011: We Are The Best 
2012: We Are Nobody 

Hamfisted they are not. Subtle, supple, sophisticated and endearingly ambitious they flog their wares with brave hearts and stout tunes. It is their tunefulness I enjoy for it manages to disguise somewhat the exploratory, progressive nature of the raison d'etre. In other words, and of plain English, their pop sensibilities capture you first before the ear starts to hear that things are not quite the norm. Oh for more bands like this. Life really could be a dream shaboom.

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Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

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