Beautiful Thing, the forthcoming solo album from Alexis Taylor, is a very new, very individualist and –yes –very beautiful reflection of a life that's changed immeasurably since he started out in music. This is a musician, writer and singer who has carved his own unique path through the music of the 21st century, completely avoiding getting trapped along the way in dumb oppositions of pop vs avant-garde, dancefloor vs intellect, retro vs modernist and so on. He has worked with living legends from major pop stars to free improvisors from the furthest left field, played huge arenas and tiny clubs without ever privileging one over the other, and through all of it, never stopped listening and learning. And all of this you can hear clearly woven through every part of Beautiful Thing, a record which brings all its myriad influences together into something strange and personal. This is also the first time Alexis has made a solo album with a producer, that producer being Tim Goldsworthy, the co-founder of Mo Wax and DFA Recordings, member of UNKLE and LCD Soundsystem. During the recording process, Alexis and Tim found a common musical language by their discussion of ultra-diverse shared references, and worked out ways of working in the studio that could approximate some of the feelings they got from those influences. The story of Alexis's early days in Hot Chip and their steady growth from schoolfriends mucking about and sharing strange music, to established international force, is well documented. But it's always worth re-emphasising how much they had to find their own way. There was no obvious niche for them to fill, and it's partially because of that that Alexis has never taken their success for granted. Throughout Hot Chip's career he has always concocted new and often challenging projects based on his own creative evolution, or on chance meetings with new musical sparring partners, he has never once rested on his laurels in terms of his musical processes or relationships with his audience."I've been playing with Hot Chip for years," says Alexis, "generally on quite big stages, and felt an excitement and rush from playing electronic music and the feeling of coming together and feeling a euphoric thing as a group. But the whole time I've played to smaller audiences on my own, with About Group [the band he formed with long-serving improvising musicians John Coxon, Pat Thomas and Charles Hayward], with Fimber Bravo [veteran steel pan player and founder of 20th Century Steel Band], and with other things I do, and putthe focus much more on song, and seen a very different way for audiences to respond. I've done a lot of gigs where I'm just sat down at a grand piano, the audience is seated too, and nobody dances -because that would be weird -and nobody talks and it's almost a recital environment. That has shown me that people really are interested in the songwriting side, even if it's on a smaller scale, and that in turn has influenced how I write." The intimate, home-recorded feel of his solo records Rubbed Outand Await Barbarians, and the pure singer-songwriter album Piano marked out territory for himself while collaborations with About Group and Fimber Bravo, alongside the mighty Scritti Politti, and playing in David Byrne’s Atomic Bomb! Band, covering the music of cult Nigerian musician WilliamOnyeabor each taught him new lessons as he took a side-stage role to embellish the music of another unique talent. All of the lessons from these radically different projects have come to bear on Beautiful Thing -as have Alexis's ongoing examinations of his own emotions and dreams. He was writing songs all along, as he always has, but the form of Beautiful Thing started to take shape when he tracked down Tim Goldsworthy. Tim was semi-retired from music, pursuing academic research, and frustrated with the creative opportunities that were offered him -but the two very quickly found a strong creative connection, and began talking about influences and processes in a way that almost came full circle to the way Alexis and Joe's first creative discussions worked. This time, the connecting theme was intimate music. Somewhere between the blissed-out drift of early Spiritualized, the perfect clean lines of George Michael's ballads, the close-mic'ed strangeness of Miles Davis's tape experiments, and most importantly the impossible delicacy of Talk Talk, the two found a musical language that would feed into their sessions. Not that they wanted to sound like any of those things: Alexis hastens to add, "I know I talk about influences a lot -because it's easy to do -but it's much more about finding common ground. The actual process, and even more importantly, the songs and the feelings they give you, are what matter."