Groove Armada Beauty and the Beat
Published Feb 01, 2000For a group oft referred to as "downbeat supremos" Groove Armada sure love their house music. While house is the exception rather than the rule throughout their new album, the wonderfully soft-spoken Vertigo , British duo Tom Findlay and Andy Cato are clearly wide-eyed fans of the classic American sound - going so far as to title one track "Chicago." "That's definitely our homage to the early warehouse sound," Findlay enthuses. "It builds from there though; the song has that kind of house feel where you can jump up and down to it or lie back and listen. It has a bit of beauty."
Truth be told, Groove Armada's second full-length holds a great deal of beauty. Songs such as "At the River" and "Dusk You and Me" are simultaneously wistful, wondrous and highly hummable. Cato and Findlay are bona fide craftsman, multi-instrumentalists with an incredible sense of song structure. "Andy is a classically trained jazz musician who played with some real, proper, grown up jazz greats as a young man, then got into producing progressive house," Findlay says. "Thing is, he missed the stuff in between - all the funk and soul that came from jazz - and that's what I'm really into. That's how our sound ends up as it does, I suppose."
Their sound manages to be both futuristic and nostalgic, electronic yet filled with the richness of live instruments. "We try to keep that sequenced vibe to it so it feels clubby, even though we're using live music," says Findlay. "A lot of things that you might think sound like a sample are us playing, but recreating it to the point where it feels like a sample."
With plans to travel to Brazil and Mexico to work with friends and musicians there, as well as to bring in "an old school producer who'll bring out the best in the instruments" for their next album, Groove Armada are clearly aiming for the next level in analogue meeting digital. In the meantime, they DJ frequently - often incorporating live players and vocalists into their mix - and recently toured Europe with a seven piece band. "DJing is like a really brilliant night out, while playing live is an incredibly intense, nerve-wracking, but wonderful experience," laughs Findlay. "If it goes well, it's like nothing else."