There’s plenty of folks on the blogosphere who have been anticipating the release of Zonoscope by Cut Copy, but nobody at IHYEB has been anticipating it more than me.
I’ve been a big fan of Cut Copy’s signature sound since the release of Bright Like Neon Love back in 2004. One of my first posts here on IHYEB was a review of the Melbourne electronic rocker’s second album In Ghost Colours. I wish I could have linked that post, but it was lost with a crash back in 2008. Regardless, I love both albums a lot, as well as the countless remixes I’ve shared with you in the last few years. Next time I go back home I’ll be framing my Vinyl LP of In Ghost Colours in an album frame. So again, to say that I was excited for this album is a bit of an understatement.
Without further ado, let me recount my first hearing of Zonoscope.
The album kicks off with the song “Need You Now.” I really like the way it feels at 0:37 in the player below, just after the intro dies off. The song isn’t perfect, and for the exact reason I’m not exactly sure. I guess I could say that it feels like it hits way too late in the song. Let me explain, at 3:30 the song builds up, and then drops back to the semi-boring verse. I like the lyrics, but in an audial way, it stays pretty static most of the time. The song finally does “drop” closer to the 5:30 mark, but it left me feeling unfulfilled. I’m listening to the song at max volume on my system in my room and I didn’t get the feeling of euphoria when it dropped like I’d hope for it to. “Need You Now” was the one single I’d not heard before the album came out, and I was kind of sad that I started the album wanting more from one of the banner tracks.
Track 2 is the second single, “Take Me Over.” I feel like I bought this single about two months ago, and on the whole I was unimpressed with it. I’m still unimpressed with it, but don’t worry, the album is not even close to its climax. If anything this song has great remix potential, and some are already starting to make appearances.
Track 3, “Where I’m Going,” I previewed a few months ago. I wrote that I felt it had a vibe akin to that of The Avalanches, Melbourne, Australia electronic sampling kings, and now I don’t feel that way so much. The song is so all over the place in terms of style, so much so that I can’t say it mimics one artist or another. It’s not my favorite track of the album. At this point, I’m concerned. I’m three tracks in, all singles, and not one has grabbed me yet.
Thankfully, the album gets progressively better. I feel like the album hits the reset button with “Pharaohs & Pyramids”. The first three tracks are almost like trailers for a movie, but here’s when I begin to like this album. Lots of retro synth and tight reverb. It made me feel like a wallflower because I wasn’t dancing, but this all a good way to feel. This album, especially the middle part of it doesn’t sound like it was meant to be experienced sitting down. “Blink and You’ll Miss a Revolution” has one of my favorite moments on the album. The hook has a brilliant composition of sound, so much so that when I hear, ”Baby baby can’t you see / oh take it from me, oh take it from me /we’re on a path to eternity/ oh take it from me, oh take it from me,” I just start to feel like I’m in a club having a good time. I’ve seen youtube videos of the song live, and it doesn’t have quite the magic. I understand part of that is the fact that I was watching a video shot on an iPhone, but “Blink and You’ll Miss a Revolution” has so much complex sound that performing it live does sound like it would be hard to replicate the album feel.
“Strange Nostalgia for the Future” isn’t really a “song”, but it’s part of Cut Copy’s signature style. These short transition tracks make the world of difference in calculating the overall feel of an album. It makes a group of singles feel like a whole composition. So when it brings in my favorite song of the album, “This is All We’ve Got”, I know that the album is about to hit it’s prime. The song winds down and gaplessly turns into “Alisa”. This song has as similar feel to Bright Like Neon Love with less electronic feel and more instrumentation.
While there’s other tracks on the album I haven’t discussed I’m just going to skip them and go right into the album’s 15 minute long outro called “Sun God”. This is undoubtably the track that deserves the most attention, and definitely the most words. Now, I say that it deserves the most attention and the most of my review, but while listening to it, all I can think to do is sit back in my chair and stare at the ceiling in awe. This is by-far the best track on the album, and it’s a shame. What makes “Sun God” so good is that it is one big release at the end of the album. It covers the album’s climax, resolution, and denouement all in one track. I tried listening to it by itself, and it felt wrong. It felt like I cheated. If you want to watch a movie, you don’t skip to the good part, you have to wade through all of the building up, and that’s what the rest of the album is. We have to remember that track numbers and divisions are a convenience, not necessarily the way an album was meant to be listened to. So my plea to you, the reader, is that if and when you get a chance, enjoy Zonoscope in its entirety. Then, and only then, do I think you’ll get a full grasp of “Sun God”. (Extra Note: The editors of IHYEB do not condone drug use, but I’m pretty sure if you listened to “Sun God” while high your head might just explode.)
Now, let me wrap it all up. I’ll admit, it took me some time to warm up to In Ghost Colours, but as of right now I’m not ready to award Zonoscope the title of “My Favorite Cut Copy Album”. It’s good, and it will be considered among the best of the year’s electronic albums, but I have a special place in my heart for their previous work and I’ll just have to keep listening to Zonoscope for a while longer. Still, it’s worth picking up if you’re a fan of their previous works, or a fan of modern electronica.
Zonoscope is available wherever fine electronic music is sold (Amazon (CD $9.99+S&H)/ Amazon MP3 (MP3 $5.99) / iTunes (AAC $7.99) / Modular People Deluxe CD/Vinyl $30+S&H), and as a nice little bonus Cut Copy has put up an hour-long mixtape. The mixtape is also a part of a contest, and if you are one of the first 5 people to name the tracklist of the mixtape you could win sweet prizes.
From CutCopy.net We also have physical CDs available for the first 5 people who can guess the correct tracklisting. Send all attempts to firstname.lastname@example.org. The first correct entry will also win a pair of tickets to the Cut Copy headline show nearest their hometown (Sorry, festivals are not included in this offer).
So Cutters get cracking if you want to win! The mix was posted yesterday and plenty of people have a headstart on the mix.
I hope your ears bleed while zoning out to Zonoscope. Ω
It seems the internet is booming with excitement over the release of a new single by Melbourne based electronic outfit Cut Copy. Well, I think it’s worth mentioning that IHYEB shares in that excitement. I, Cody, have been posting my favorite Cut Copy remixes for what is now years here on the blog, so now when a new release comes my way I can’t help but be a little over excited.
Other blogs have mentioned this track having a Beach Boys vibe in it. As for myself, while I see where they derive that, I’m not feeling that description so much. Instead, I get a bit of an Avalanches vibe from it. The sampling and reusing/mixing of sound has their style written all over it.
But as Elvis Costello said, “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” Listen to the track and tell us what you think. Is Cut Copy back for a thumping third major release, or is this the sign of their aging sound?
This remix puts a brand-new spin on a timeless classic. I first heard the song in the soundtrack of a movie, and have loved it ever since. But it’s not just because it’s a classic song. I like it because of the job done by the remixer. Soulwax is one of the best remixing outlets out there, and almost everything I hear by them I want to go out and purchase immediately. But, this is just the first on my list and I’ve got nine more so let’s keep going.
Radiohead has always been known for their abstract sound, as well as the interesting people that they attract. This remix is no exception. Featuring the styling of Del the Funky Homosapien (aka. Deltron 3030) the song transforms from that of rock to rap. There’s always a fresh sound when you try to remix Radiohead, and it’s always super fun to listen to.
This remix is completely different. Instead of trading the original sounds for electronic beats, the original points of the song are replaced by tribal drums and a choir. This remix also happens to be done by one of my favorite remixing outlets, The Avalanches. The subtle change of the backing makes a huge difference and in turn makes it one of my favorite remixes of the year, even if it was released a few years ago.
Earlier this year I was able to obtain notoriety to our blog when I first wrote about The Lindbergh Palace, and some of the work they’ve done in remixing, more specifically their dubs. This dub mix is no exception and is one of the most profound pieces they’ve ever done.
This next remix is one that I kind of found out of the blue. It combines my favorite European rock influence with my favorite Australian electronic influence. Personally, I preferred the original version of the song to the remix, but what keeps bringing me back to this remix is not the song itself but the way in which it was remixed. Cut Copy is my favorite electronic group out there, and while I like their remixes, I like their original content better.
A sure winner for any top 10 list this year is can he beat anything by MGMT. These relative newcomers generated lots of buzz this year with a seemingly endless number of great singles. But it is this remix, however, that kept my ears bleeding all summer long. Remixed by the heirs to the electronic music kingdom, Justice, this remix is full of classy transition and poise that you would only find in a Justice song.
Three words. Speak N’ Spell. Any song that uses a speak n’ spell is almost sure to be a good song in my book. Combine that with my favorite Coldplay song from the album X & Y, and I’m sure to love it. This remix is not only enjoyable, but danceable.
I’d always let myself be turned off to the idea that I would listen to Maroon Five, but the song is really catchy and I ended up liking it a whole lot. Before I knew it I had listened to this song more than 10 times and enjoyed it more with each play. The song comes from the Maroon Five remix album released this year. Generally such albums tend to generate only a few good remixes, but I was very impressed with this one. Remix fans alike will will rejoice to the earlier sounds of Maroon Five set to hip-hop beats, and given a whole new life.
Before the release of their sophomore album earlier this year, thanks to the wonderful website HypeMachine, I found this incredible remix of the single “Lights and Music.” Whenever I think of the original version of the song my mind always clicks back to this remix, since it was first to hit my ears. It’s a fun playful mix, and even if it’s not the original, it’s still a great addition to any Cut Copy fan’s collection.
When they write a book about Pop Culture 50 years from now, they will say that the year 2008 was the year of the RickRoll. NEVER GONNA GIVE YOU UP! NEVER GONNA LET YOU DOWN! NEVER GOING TO TURN AROUND, DESERT YOU! NEVER GONNA MAKE YOU CRY! NEVER GONNA SAY GOODBYE! NEVER GONNA TELL A LIE, AND HURT YOU!
Well, we’ve done it. We went an entire month on The Avalanches. So to finish it all up, we’re going to put the icing on the cake with two remixes that The Avalanches have their signature sound on.
First up, Badly Drawn Boy – The Shining (The Avalanches Good Word For The Weekend Remix) (removed 2/13/09).
This song actually sounds like a missing track from Since I Left You.It’s so beautifully done, I’d really never know the difference. What makes this so much different from an Avalanches original track is that their signature style is only applied to the background of the song, and not onto the vocals at all. A beautiful listen, and one that is perfectly blissful, and perfect for relaxing.
A huge change of pace now, Belle & Sebastian – I’m A Cuckoo (Avalanches Remix) (removed 2/13/09).
This is completely different, almost so well done that you’d think they were playing along live with the tribal music. Doesn’t have any retro throwback sounds to it, but is still amazing, and it inspires that same sense of hope and wonder that I’ve come to expect from any Avalanche song.
Well thats it! We resume regular programming next week with some more great remixes. Tell us what you thought of this series in the comments, we’re anxious to see what you thought, and if we should do it again.
All in all, have a safe halloween.
And please don’t let yourself get stuck in an avalanche.