Picture the scene: You’ve had the absolute day from hell. You woke up late, missed your bus by seconds and had to wait 15 minutes in the pissings of rain (with no umbrella, naturally) for another. You copped a bollocking from your boss for being tardy and your working day went downhill from there. Eight miserable hours later, you drag yourself wearily in the direction of home, stopping off in the shops on the way home to grab a few provisions. You’re waiting patiently to pay for your items when some UTTER BASTARD jumps the queue. That’s it. That’s the final straw. You can feel your blood start to boil and the veins in your forehead being to throb. You instantly have murder on your mind. You are about to go postal. Your picture will appear in tomorrow’s paper under the headline ‘Dozens Dead In Supermarket Carnage’.
All of a sudden, you notice the music playing over the tannoy. Delicate washes of twinkling synth and a gentle, shuffling beat begin to soothe your tortured synapses as you hear a mellifluous female voice sing “With peace in your bones, give up the fight/Surrender to silence, follow the light.” Three-and-a-half minutes later you leave the shop, smiling beatifically, and drift home in a happy haze. The song that has just saved the life of several innocent shoppers is ‘Peace‘ by Nick Cooke (aka Cuttooth ) from his second, self-titled album – 11 tracks of electronica so blissed-out and serene that it will soothe even the most troubled of minds.
A brief and lovely intro sets the tone – all low-level fuzz and crackle (a constant across the album), swelling synth and delicate delayed guitar. ‘Old Tape Machine‘ then takes the stage, marrying juddering bass drum to dreamy, slow-mo electronica and the breathtaking vocals of Japanese singer Hitomi. The King Midas Sound vocalist pops up again on the brief-but-sweet ‘Illusion Symptom‘ alongside sampled birdsong and a languid melody, declaring “Every day is a precious day”. Indeed, the vocal contributions are stellar right across the album: The stop-start rhythm of the lush, smoked-out ‘Breathe Deeply‘ features a star turn from Onra collaborator Sarah Linhares, while the honey-throated Bridie Jackson of The Arbours voices the aforementioned ‘Peace’ and the dubby, spacious ‘Don’t Look Back‘.
Elsewhere, hip hop-inflected, instrumental grooves are the order of the day: ‘FM Radio‘ is funereally-paced breakbeat, while the somewhat unimaginatively-titled ‘Untitled‘ is a brief snatch of unhurried boom-bap. The crunching ‘All Of Salem‘, with its stately beat, singing synths and fragmented vocal sample, is perhaps the best thing here, along with ‘Casting Shade‘. The latter is one of the few moments of dissonance on the album, its mournful guitar figure and swathes of forlorn keyboard giving way to a brief but dischordant spoken-word coda. That just leaves the luscious ‘Outro‘ which sees a pensive guitar riff allied to shimmering, bleepy synths, the effect of is quite lovely.
Naysayers might point to the fact that, within the parameters of the album, there’s arguably not much variation in sound and tone, with the songs tending to blur into each other a tad (although this is arguably deliberate – for example, the subtle, fizzing white noise mixed low throughout the album serves to give proceedings a warm feel). It’s also quite ludicrously short – we’re all for brevity when it comes to albums, but at a mere 24-and-a-half minutes this is little more than EP length. On the other hand this just might make you more likely to hit repeat and listen all over again. Soothing and soulful, this is just the thing for those occasions when modern life’s pressures have you at breaking point. Don’t get mad. Get Cuttooth.