Album Reviews - Reviews

Cuttooth – Cuttooth LP


Considering the gruesome state of current urban music trends, evocative and engaging Hip Hop can be pretty tough to come by these days, and with the likes of J Dilla and Flying Lotus having set the standard for dreamy, lush and stripped back Hip Hop compositions (Strip Hop?) Cuttooth – aka Nick Cooke – manages to hold his own in this milieu with his second, self-titled LP.  It doesn’t feel like there is a direct regurgitating of the late Dilla or of the very much still rocking FlyLo, but, there is more than just a tip of the hat to their respective styles on this album and it is this retrospect that will appeal to fans of those glazed, left-field beats normally found on Ninja Tune, Warp Records or Stones Throw.

Some stand-out tracks include ‘Old Tape Machine’ featuring Hitomi (Ninja Tune) which comes across as a blend of Bjork meets Luke Vibert on one of his mellower days.  It’s deep and pleasant; crackling along like the well-used reel to reel of its namesake.  ‘FM Radio’ mirrors some of FlyLo’s work on ‘1984’ and has a driving, tight snare that mingles well with the ambience of the track.  Again, there is a crackling warmth about it but its simplicity leaves you wanting more; there’s something missing that two more minutes of track time may well have afforded.  ‘Breathe Deeply’ featuring Sarah Linhares is nicely saturated with a smoky room jazz vibe that does well separating itself from quieter Groove Armada works.  The untitled fifth track immediately grabs attention.  It has a quality that should probably be described as the cries of a lovechild conceived by Autechre circa 1994 and Massive Attack/Mad Professor, whilst being tended to by Plaid as babysitter.  It’s melodic, weird and pretty perfect except that it’s 1.19 in length.  There should be so much more of this track; it deserves more time to flourish.

‘Don’t Look Back’ features vocals by Bridie Jackson, who previously collaborated with Cuttooth on 2011s Elements LP.  This time around though, there is a maturity to her vocal contribution that acts in a more cohesive manner with the delicacy of the track.  ‘Don’t Look Back’ has a clarity that has gracefully evolved from ‘Cold Moon’ or ‘This War’.

There is a lot to be excited about on this LP and it appears as though Cooke is nearly done cutting his teeth (ahem…) with his own brand of historically rich, bugged-out hip hop – but the frequent use of that familiar, loud vinyl crackle within could use a touch more compression, and, some of the tracks might leave you wanting an outcome that could have been achieved with a few more minutes here and there or a few more pad progressions to shake things up.  Having said that – put the headphones on and enjoy a really very decent hip hop album.  Aaron Drain

(Cuttooth LP is out now on 4 Lux White)

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