Jon More and Matt Black – aka Coldcut – are back on vinyl! The grandmasters of UK cut ‘n’ paste and founders of the Ninja Tune rebel alliance return with a new cocktail of music, words and images that Black describes as “dissentertainment”. The new EP sees the revival of Ahead Of Our Time, the label name Matt and Jon chose for their first records.
One Coldcut hallmark has been their skill at choosing collaborators, and the “Only Heaven” EP is no exception. First up, they recruited super producer Dave Taylor (Switch / With You.) to work with them. Best known for his stint as Major Lazer with Diplo, Taylor has also produced for M.I.A., Santigold, Beyoncé and many more. The new music here was recorded with him at the Woodshed Studios in Malibu, California. To keep the vibe sharp, Coldcut then brought in some UK vocal muscle in the form of Roots Manuva and Roses Gabor.
The results are, as you’d expect, sensational. “Only Heaven” offers a falling, music-box sadness, soulful and dislocated all at once. Over it, Roots Manuva lays out a trademark stream of consciousness performance, both impassioned and alienated. The beauty here is just how good they make it sound, a kind of anthem for doomed youth as alluring as it is sad. “Creative” gives us something for the dancefloor, a vicious, swinging rhythm, building to an ecstatic finish. “Dreamboats” sees the return of Manuva, this time joined by Gabor for the chorus, all over a crackling, juddering monster of a beat. “Donald’s Wig” is Roses Gabor’s moment to shine and she grabs it – deconstructed d&b, the tune comes over like post-punk spy music with bigger beats. Gabor herself has never sounded better.
This being Coldcut, audio is always combined with visual – and with politics. Cover art is by Kim Rugg a fine artist whose painstaking analog cutup techniques to ‘tidy’ newspapers meshes perfectly with Coldcut’s own. Astute observers will recognise the samples in her sharp observation on mass media’s noise to signal ratio, a small-p political strategy with its roots in William Burrough’s cut-ups. Kim is from the RCA, continuing that institutions tradition of creating provocative pop art covers, and Coldcut have been working with RCA students to re-imagine cultural activism in an ongoing program. The cover art forms the basis of an interactive meme player that can be shared to encourage engagement on positive political causes linked to the content like Stop Funding Hate. Questioning, questing, still playful yet on the bleeding edge, Coldcut are back.
3rd December – Coldcut @ Jazz Cafe, London, UK
w/ Adrian Sherwood, Dennis Bovell, Crucial Tony and Perry Melius