Thursday, November 14, 2013

Artist of the Day: Cut Copy

Attention early-teenaged children of parents who met at raves: I sense imminent danger. You risk being the first generation who will, when the music blasting through your poster-lined bedroom walls is interrupted by your parents knock gingerly on the door, face a chilling amount of enthusiasm from the folks. For them, it’s a miracle, a godsend. This 4/4 floor-thumping music is not the cliche “jibber-jabber,” it’s not “just noise.” In fact, it seems that these days they DO “make ‘em like they used to.” Scared yet? 

Tradition-family-dynamic-chaos aside, Acid House is back. Or at least the Australians think it is. Seems like every major urban center down under has their own psychedelic dance band mascot, and Melbourne’s Cut Copy have been doing it longer than anyone. Jagwar Ma in Sydney just up north have been getting a lot of talk for their debut, and rightfully so, but Cut Copy have been making the history of electronic dance their (REMOVED) since 2001. Their latest record, Free Your Mind, has moved them up the timeline, from the nu-New Wave of their last effort, Zonoscope, to a beautiful, flower, smile-worthy romp in acid-house revival. 

There’s no question that this album is retro. It’s acid-house because it respects and resurrects tropes that faded from dance music when the genre starting getting too self-conscious (if you need to label yourself “Intelligent”, you’ve got to wonder. Looking at you Warp Records). Just look at the song titles: “Take Me Higher”, “Meet Me in a House of Love,” “Walking in the Sky.” Read: “We like MDMA and dancing like its 1991.” The production is airy and far-away, something that happens to be cool in a lot of the weird Grimes-ish indietronica coming out now but also a definite hallmark of original acid-house. The pianos are major-keyed and just so uplifting. The title track, when the chorus starts chanting something about “Freedom”, has to be the most unsubtle reference of all time to George Michael’s ultrasexy acid-house/Top-40 fusion classic “Freedom! 90”. 

But the past doesn’t really get in the way. After all, the first track on Primal Scream’s seminal 1991 acid-house record Screamadelica was basically and unabashedly a Stones song. Cut Copy are making music in the style, but with more wiggle room (dare I say “Freedom”) since they’re not working within a movement, or catering to an audience that demands a certain style and formula, as many of the original acid-house groups did. This leads to a series of weird bleeps-and-blips, out of place breakdowns, and generally interesting modernizations of the old form. That, behind creating generally fun,  listenable, lovable music, is the key to rehash success.

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