In the three years since 2nd LP “Pre-Emptive False Rapture“, Chrome Hoof have bolstered their already mighty reputation for epic live performances, and I’ve conspired to miss every single one of them. Last month however (this blog now operates at Pathe News pace) I accidently saw them twice.

New album “Crush Depth” was a year in the making, with the process likened to “giving birth to a 14-pound spiny lobster. Slow, agonising and bloody“. To celebrate their new arrival, Hackney’s Bocking Street Warehouse was transformed into the ‘Chrome Hoof Space Station‘, where we were told revellers would be “taken on an inter-planetary voyage of discovery through space, time and music”. They do like a bit of hyperbole do the Hoof, but the huge sparse warehouse was equipped with the mother of all sound-systems, designed to make your eardrums feel like they’ve been beaten by the combined forces of Bonham, Purdie & the Animal. Watch the video below for a flavour of the night, although the mega speakers overwhelmed my camera mic, requiring a few little audio snips and cheats.

At 1am the gurgling synth intro of “Crystalline” rings out & the massed ranks of the Hoof emerge through the smoke, resplendent in head to toe spangly cloaks… think Gandolf the Grey if all he’d had to magic up some clothing were leftover disco balls. The crowd roar approval as the “Temporary Secretary“esque analogue opening transforms into a full on horn and violin driven assault, as is the way with Chrome Hoof’s “take 5 genres, then mix thoroughly” approach to music.

At the centre of it all is Hoof & Spektrum lead singer Lola Olafsoye, often described as voodoo priestess/Grace Jones/dominatrix/sultry, she certainly owns the stage, but the rest of the ensemble are hardly shrinking violets.

Of the two founding brothers Leo & Milo Smee, its Bassist Leo who takes Chrome Hoof closest to the death metal sound of his previous band, Cathedral. Donning a metal mask pilfered from MF Doom’s dressing room, he roars his way through the full on doom metal of “Death is Certain?” ably abetted by Emma Sullivan who summons up a scream that would have the priest hurriedly unpacking his exorcism kit.

Elsewhere tracks like “Vaporise” meld funk, electro and more to have dancefloor lovers salivating. Where some groups flit between styles over the course of an album, Hoof will switch time signatures, five different genres and various rhythms in one track. Skittering R&B beats, thudding 808 acid bass getting down and dirty with the classically trained sounds Sarah Anderson on Violin, and Chloe Herington on Saxophone and “what the fuck is that thing that birds playing” (as the bloke standing next to me asked his mate… a Bassoon I believe).

Every album sees the Chrome Hoof clan expand and Iranian guitarist Kavus Torabi (below) seems a particular fine addition. According to Wiki (and its funny enough not to care if its true) he learnt guitar by inventing his own form of notation and using it to score out the theme from CHIPS. I was about to suggest his axe work has more grunt than Erik Estrada’s chopper, but I’ll swiftly back away from that analogy as the Urban dictionary informs me Erik Estrada is a sexual manoeuvre involving aviator sunglasses and motorcycle noises.

As if there wasn’t enough to keep your attention on stage, two dancers are positioned on plinths above the crowd. Their mission, to get the crowd moving (as if encouragement were needed) while wearing futuristic outfits picked up when the BBC called time on Sylvester McCoy era Dr.Who.

With a final flourish, the band bring out their answer to Maiden’s “Eddie” or ACDC’s inflatable uber-breasted woman, a 12ft tall chrome goat with metal hooves and flashing eyes. Previous incarnations of the goat were ritually sacrificed, but version 3 provides a suitable climax to the show and encore.

SECRET CINEMA – BLADERUNNER

A few weeks later a last minute trip to “Secret Cinema” offered an unexpected chance to see Chrome Hoof again. Secret Cinema started out as small wonderfully thought out word of mouth concept, enhancing the chosen film by screening it in a fitting venue or with a special guest and encouraging people to turn up dressed in the spirit of the film. So when they showed “Anvil“, they got the actual band to play afterwards. Initially one off screenings, they guarded the title of the chosen film and instructed the small number of attendees to “Tell No One!“. At the latest event, Bladerunner played twice daily for a week, and attendees can now buy t-shirts saying “Tell No One!“.

What hasn’t changed is the staggering attention to detail and inventiveness of the organisers. Its now become a kind of promenade theatre that Punchdrunk or Shunt might put on, immersing the audience in a world to wander.

Arriving at Canary Wharf, air hostesses welcome you to Utopia Airways ushering everyone onto buses while tourists and weekend city boys gaup at all the weird and wonderfully dressed people who’ve materialised in this mecca to money.

Each step of the way, actors playing parts from the film interact, so the bus abruptly stops and everyone inside is instructed to immediately draw the curtains. When most passengers respond by laughing, the “Bladerunner” screams to “shut them NOWWW!!”. For the rest of the journey he asks questions (as the film) designed to reveal if the chosen victim is a “humanoid”.

I’m not going to go through every detail of the experience as its simply too rich to cover in what’s ostensibly about Chrome Hoof! Suffice to say upon arrival at the hanger they’d chosen to show the film in, they’d recreated the Bladerunner world in its entirety. Midgets attack cars with baseball bats, hawkers tout carpets, film characters mingle, snakes and iguanas’ are offered to pose with, iris’s scanned, dancers writhe in-front of neon lights… its incredible. Enjoying the sun in the Warehouse yard I made the mistake of placing my pint on the boot of a wrecked car, only for a fleeing Zhona to send it flying while careering over the cars roof escaping a Bladerunner (as in the film).

Anyway, what band could they possibly pick to play Taffy’s Bar in a dystopian LA circa 2019… Chrome Hoof of course. So for all the twitterers and google searchers asking “Who were the band playing Secret Cinema…they were AWESOME”… Chrome Hoof is the answer!

Chrome Hoof – Facebook / Twitter / Buy the album + Tshirt

Look: RedBull sponsored photo gallery from the launch night

Secret Cinema Flickr set

Read: I Heart AU says Hoof raised the “live show to stratospheric proportions

Spoonfed got hot and sweaty but loved the show.

Secret Cinema review

Listen:

Chrome Hoof – ProNoid” (MP3)

[audio:http://www.musiclikedirt.com/wp-content/MP3/Pronoid.mp3]

Chrome Hoof – DJ Mix” (MP3)

[audio:http://www.musiclikedirt.com/wp-content/MP3/DJMix.mp3]

RedBull Academy radio has a superb recording of the bands Primavera Sound gig.

Watch:

Official film of Bladerunner Secret Cinema event

Even BBC News noticed Secret Cinema