Monday, July 8, 2013

ALBUM REVIEW: Cuttooth - Cuttooth

Northern UK producer Cuttooth operates in a crowded, but ill-defined, field, one alternately referred to as trip hop, electronica or downtempo, depending on where you are and your patience for the cumbersome specificity of genre. Suffice it to say that the blunted boom bap, ethereal voices and soulful samples found on his new self-titled LP, out now on the Dutch label 4 Lux Recordings, will feel somewhat familiar to those well acquainted with the more abstract end of modern electronic music, but while the album doesn't present much that could be considered new, it's still a sterling example of the style.

At times recalling Portishead, Massive Attack and the more luxurious side of Dan the Automator, the record's eleven tracks unfold with a certain organic grace, slowly spinning the warm, ever-present analog crackle of well-worn vinyl into suites of birdsong, sumptuous strings and exotic female vocals. As great as the crisp but natural production is, those international featured guests bring a lot to the table; standout track "Breathe Deeply" wouldn't be nearly as sultry or cinematic without the contribution of the Montreal based Sarah Linhares and Japanese singer-songwriter Hitomi adds an alluring fragility to "Old Tape Machine" and "Illusion Symptom."

At a mere 25 minutes, the album certainly doesn't wear out its welcome, indeed by the time it evaporates back into thin air, it leaves you wanting more, a fact which, along with the uninterrupted fluidity with which it flows from track to track, makes repeat listens almost inevitable. Cuttooth (known by day as Nick Cooke, by the by), is a relatively new name on the scene, having released his solo debut Elements on Psychonavigation records in 2011, but judging by this assured, thoroughly enjoyable addition to his rapidly expanding discography, he's most definitely one to keep an eye on.

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