A friend of mine, who just so happens to be a world-renowned tobacco connoisseur, introduced to me to the pleasures of trip-hop, IDM, and downtempo artists off of labels like Warp and Ninja Tune. Though a lot of this music might induce sensual feelings or contribute to the swanky atmosphere of a romantic rendezvous, Cuttooth, who sound like many of those bands, are also ideal for other activities, like smoking hookah. A great deal of chilled out electronic artists like this are instrumental, however, Cuttooth features three different female vocalists throughout his self-titled second album. Maybe this is where the sexuality comes from. It also depends how much of a Freudian you are, or in other words, how much of a creep you are. Soothing beats and airy sonic textures contribute heady grooves to the overall sensual feelings. Don Juan would be pleased.
Two common critiques of downtempo music are that it sounds like porno music, and that it is sleep-inducing. In a clichéd embodiment of the what-are-the-kids-listening-to-these-days sort of moment, an older relative once remarked, as I was listening to Kinobe, that whatever I was playing sounded like elevator music (I’m not sure what kind of place would play that kind of stuff in their own elevators). There are traces of a Massive Attack or a Portishead here as well, with haunting vocals that sound as though they are from another planet, a dive bar Han Solo frequents besides the one where he shot Greedo. It’s no surprise, then, that there’s a track titled “All of Salem,” a sly reference, perhaps, to the witch trials of the colonial New England city. A staggering number of women were killed as a result of this historical monstrosity, and in some ways the voices here sound like “the return of the repressed” that those familiar with postcolonial studies will know. I will stop with the theorizing now as I hear angry replies from “the curtains were fucking blue” school of thought brewing.
England’s youth culture always seems to be one step ahead; the Huxleyian aberration known as dupstep emerged out of London, though its nascent form was much more tolerable. And once again, on Cuttooth, high-quality electronic music created by an English artist proves that the U.K. never misses a beat. If you’re looking for some new music to play in your brothel, or you just want to relax with some friends and enjoy tobacco or other mind-altering substances (like coffee), Cuttooth is a worthy choice.