(photos by me from a 2011 Cut Copy show)
“Music has always been a matter of Energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel. I have always needed Fuel. I am a serious consumer. On some nights I still believe that a car with the gas needle on empty can run about fifty more miles if you have the right music very loud on the radio.”
-Hunter S Thompson
This is my experience of Cut Copy live in many ways. I’ve seen them on numerous occasions; while promoting breakthrough LP In Ghost Colours, a beautifully paced and hugely special album that soundtracked my formative and more wild years. At festivals in the UK and further afield, squirming to the front row in an abandoned mine in rural Germany, to get a sneak peak of yet to be released new material. At the start and end of the Zonoscope era. And the tingling excitement is still there tonight prior to their show at Oval Space having released fourth LP Free Your Mind recently; rather self-indulgently (like this review will be deal with it) it’s like I’m anticipating the opening of my own memory capsule and all the nostalgic joy that brings, my life and Cut Copy’s intertwine so.
Relationships, friendships, shedding old character skin, starting new lives, hedonistic pleasures, darker times, long carefree summers, babies, ends, beginnings. My twenties. Everything. This all feels heightened as I’m there with a friend who introduced me to them in 2007 roughly, and have remained close ever since. We’ve been at all the aforementioned shows together, and Cut Copy have been the one consistent in our lives that have taken different paths. A moment during the gig sums up everything. ‘Strangers In The Wind’ finishes, the one understated track of the night. “This is the first track I played after my mum died” he states, tears fighting to get out behind the eyes (his mum having only passed one month or so ago at an age that’s too young) “I haven’t told anyone that”. Empathetic tears now form in my eyes. There’s a brief awkward pause, but this is followed by a pure moment of tenderness, and it’s too much. Love, joy, empathy, deep nostalgia; yup, very much the themes of Cut Copy. These four dudes on stage who have concocted all this will never know how much that moment meant. Our emotional bubble is pricked by the next twinkly party synth that sets up the next track – screw it there’s dancing to be done and fun to be had right?
The title track from the album opens tonight following some brief dialogue from an old film (that features throughout the album) – an album that contains a strong 90′s house vibe, a subtle adjustment from the pure 80′s synth-fuelled pop of IGC and the 70′s Fleetwood Mac charms that sprinkle throughout Zonoscope. Oval Space beholds a very different feel to previous Cut Copy shows that I’ve experienced at Koko, The Forum, Roundhouse et al; the warehouse vibe and brick wall backdrop mirroring the kaldeioscopic rave-soaked mood of the album. Dan Whitford even sports a bomber jacket at the start (that quickly comes off) as a wind machine blasts his hair and wild lights beam off clouds of smoke. Gone is their consistent opener of the last few years that is the soft, spacious and short ‘Visions’ – only one minute in and the gig has a wholly different feel to past Cut Copy. A definite split with the past.
It quickly transpires that despite a new approach, this is very much a greatest hits set that’s been mapped out for maximum audience pleasure as underlined in a trio of ‘Where I’m Going’ into ‘Feel The Love’ into ‘In Memory Capsule’; all from three different albums. Inevitably it’s the older favourites that get the greatest reception with a serotonin double bubble of ‘So Haunted’ and ‘Hearts On Fire’ from IGC – Oval Space explodes into a kinetic sea of jumping fanboys/gurls who belt out every lyric to lung capacity bursting point as Whitford flings his body about onstage, reaching his gangly arms to the sky and giving every track like it’s his last. It’s been said on these pages recently (at the Baths gig), but huge kudos to the sound people at Oval Space for giving Cut Copy the crystal clear delivery that their work demands.
What’s noticeable is how well Zonoscope has aged – ‘Need You Now’ joining the euphoric pop pillars of the aforementioned IGC numbers, with it’s delightful nuanced build until the crescendo after five minutes in erupts into a heavenly acid-house sing-a-thon. The highlights are numerous; the primitive drum thrashing from ‘Corner of the Sky’, to the surprise and very welcome choice of ‘Strangers In The Wind’ (as discussed), while new number ‘Show Me Your Love’ sounds refreshing and a hugely promising prospect – like a condensed pop version of behemothic and indulgent number ‘Sun God’ that doesn’t get played tonight. We even have time for a bit of Bright Like Neon Love love, in the form of ‘That Was Just a Dream’.
Post-encore the night ends on another devastating double header as highlight of FYM ‘Meet Me In A House Of Love’ and its pacey sax solo intro bleeds into the monumental ‘Lights and Music’ – a track that always kills. “Into to the night/Into forever/Let’s come together like the brightest stars”. It’s all over. Smiles bounce across the room. Woops ring out. Arms hover in stasis above the body, unsure whether to clap, grab something, or continue moving in an aimless flow. Hands run through sweaty hair. An exhausted exhilarated atmosphere sets in the air. The lights come up.
Lyrically and aesthetically it’s all very clubby and druggy (particularly anything from Free Your Mind), with words such as: “hearts, meet me, lights, sun, sunrise, sky, take my hand, forever, dream, colours, journey, love (numerous times), together, into the night” and many more oft repeated throughout. It is on the surface of things big, dumb, fun electropop. Hey but you know what? It’s music that you don’t need drugs at all to enjoy – Cut Copy have crafted something so ecstatic, euphoric and intense that the music in itself is the biggest high you can get. Influenced by MDMA but enjoyed anytime of day.
The 405 spent a week in the stunning location of Rovinj in North West Croatia for Unknown Festival, to say goodbye to the summer.
will be coming soon once we’ve recovered, can be read here, but for now browse through these serene photos that in no way shape or form reflect the wild hedonism of the festival itself. Think of it is a paradox if you will. The camera does and bloody will lie.
A couple of us trudge down from our apartment onsite – a four minute walk to the main stage. It’s downhill all the way, but even this feels like a struggle. This is Friday 7pm and we’ve been here in Croatia for six days now, and present at the festival (where sleep is scarce) for four of those – a festival that has gifted us a fatigued body that creaks with each step, a soporific mind muddied with senses crushed.
It’s all for Jon Hopkins.
The setting is one of an intense otherworldliness; to our right is the beach where the vibrant stock photo sunset is setting over the Adriatic sea, in front is the remnants of a paint fight sprawled across the floor that occurred an hour previous. These two factors combine to produce an intense and dazzling display of fecund colour, the sunset glow illuminating the paint-stricken shimmering surroundings like a souped-up Hayao Miyazaki-film.
A giant glittering octopus occupied by twenty or so revellers dances by, each gaggle of people moving the legs individually. A glitter-faced girl so obviously on acid follows, arms spread, fabric from her psychedelic dress fanning in the mild breeze, laconic grin spread, eyes dilated. I’ve rarely seen anyone love, and be in a moment, so acutely. Less said about tomorrow the better. Read more…
“Life’s passion can be eliminated through detached contemplation”
Once said Polish poet and fine writer of prose Czesław Miłosz, and it’s a quote that I can’t help but feel is apt in relation to James Blake‘s rather staggering eponymous 2011 Mercury-nominated album. An eldritch album made for, well, himself in many ways, an introspective listen, telling tales of non-existent siblings “they don’t talk to me; but I don’t blame them”, and yearning. The aforementioned quote by Miłosz was applied to art – and a work of art the LP was.
Two years later. Overgrown. And Blake has seemingly assimilated some of life’s lessons that comes with the territory of entering your twenties, falling in love, stepping out of those shadows – becoming James Blake. A name that carries a lot of weight, but boy he’s learnt to wear it well.
Five-and-a-half months have passed since the release of the second album and subsequent blanket coverage – so at tonight’s sold-out show at Oxford’s O2 Academy Read more…
For many Godspeed You! Black Emperor fans of a certain age, tonight is a night they never though they’d experience. Well it’s certainly not something I had ever envisaged happening – only discovering them after their 2003 hiatus, or assumed split.
In the mid-to-late nineties everything was just peachy in the Western world we were told. The Berlin-wall had come down, there was no natural enemy for the media to bombard us with. The free market was seemingly blossoming and hunky dory, we all had a McDonalds to feed us, stock markets ascending to unparalleled heights. Our post-rock chthonic heroes GSY!BE could see through this diaphanous facade, into the “belly of the beast” and the damage that a grotesque form of capitalism was starting to manifest into our society – even before it was, well, ‘cool’ to do so.
So Godspeed’s emergence to the world in 2011 seemed terribly fitting given how many eyes have been opened to this sight of the beast devouring itself, the 1% happy to continue their egregious ways, with a new and improved formula for a clearly-defined post-9/11 enemy cast. Read more…
There’s a huge swathe of precious US-based MCs that have come to the fore over the past year or so – and none more impressive as Bishop Nehru from New York City.
At just 16 years old of age, the multi-faceted young producer, beatmaker, and mic wrecker has shone with a couple of notable mixtapes – the most recent being strictlyFLOWZ from the summer. We caught the prodigious rapper before his show at Brixton Academy with Wu-Tang Clan, where he gave us an a capella rendition of the DOOM produced ‘Elder Blossoms’ in Brixton’s skatepark.
Speaking of which, Bishop is to feature in the yet-to-be named DOOM collaboration, so keep your eyes open for that. Make sure to check out our interview with Bishop here after watching our session.
Created by Stephen Bevan & Tim Boddy
(photo by me)
I’ve been terrible recently at making playlists/finding new music, but here’s a bunch of fun/sad electronic-based tracks that I’ve found recently, with the odd older, err, banger thrown in.
The first track by AKIINE is gorgeous and you should check out her Soundcloud, if you consider yourself to be any kind of half-decent human. I’ve also caught up on the Braids LP Flourish // Perish from earlier this year that features, plus of course some mandatory Sufjan at the end. Enjoy: