Cope™ Freeland’s first artist album in six years, on his own
independent Marine Parade label will certainly traffic in the
unexpected—electro beats banging enough to fill dancefloors, yet
twisted with sounds and collaborations from uncharted waters.
Fear not though, instead of the ye olde prog fromage you might expect, these tracks get laced with Freeland’s raw, hard-rocking “e-drone” grooves, aided by akimbo guitars courtesy Joey Santiago (Pixies) and sinister low end courtesy Twiggy Ramirez (Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails).
Tracks like the driving, gritty “Borderline”—co-written with Brody Dalle of Spinnerette/Distillers, with a raw, eerie vocal by Dalle—show Freeland’s ability to blend electronic charge with artfully confessional songwriting. Likewise, “Only A Fool,” Freeland’s epic collaboration with Jerry Casale of DEVO, proves a Krautrock apocalyptica anthem for the entire family.
Cope™ ultimately proves a genre-smashing, era-defining call to arms on par with Leftfield’s Leftism, Prodigy’s Fat Of The Land, Daft Punk’s Discovery and Justice’s †, defying expectations of what an electronic album should and could be.
Indeed, psychedelic drone rock redolent of Freeland’s move from his native U.K. to the California desert reverberates throughout Cope™, from the swirling shoegaze of “Silent Speaking” (written and performed with Brooklyn Pitchfork faves SoundPool) to the heartwrenching, Sigur Ros-like “Mancry,” an epic modal soundscape anchored by thundering percussion courtesy Tommy Lee (yes, that Tommy Lee).
Meanwhile, “Do Ya!” proves totally uncategorizable—imagine DJ Shadow given a Mooged-out Krautrock retrofit by Can with Bonham sitting in on drums, and you get the idea. Co-produced by Marine Parade’s latest producer-DJ star Alex Metric (Autokratz, Locarnos, Black Daniel, Hard-Fi, Eddy Temple’s “Remixer of the Year 2007,” Annie Nightingale’s BBC alternate) and mixed primarily by Alex Greggs of South Rakkas Crew fame (Yo Majesty!, Beenie Man, and, er, N*Sync), with Cope Freeland and crew give dance music a crucially heretical wake-up call.
Most of all, while standout tracks like “Best Fish Tacos in Encenada” and “Bring It” belie Freeland’s roots in stark electronic funk, the album overall shows him decisively soldering DJ-friendly grooves with authentic musical interplay. This hybrid is made clear in innovative rockers like “Undercontrol,” “Strange Things,” and a decidedly tweaked deconstruction of David Essex’s 1973 glam smash “Rock On,” all of which feature the haunting vocals of new discovery Kurt Baumann (pictured with Freeland), frontman for the eponymous Freeland touring band. Filled with paranoiac wordplay and skewed political commentary that complements the futuristic yet dissident sonics, such songs almost tip Cope™ into concept-album territory—except for the fact that it never sits still long enough for any concept to take hold.
In the end, Cope™ proves a revealing snapshot that refuses to remain in focus, a brutally vivid document of yesterday’s future today, intentionally timeless yet shocking enough to wake up today’s attention-deficit dancefloors addicted to nothing. Cope with that, motherfuckers…
“Under Control,” the first single from Freeland’s new artist album on Marine Parade later this year, demonstrates the infamous producer/DJ decisively soldering club-friendly grooves with raw musical interplay, announced immediately in the martial drums/bass stomp that opens the song. “Under Control” , the first song on the album, featuring another landmark in frontman Kurt Baumann’s vocals— the haunting, distinctively powerful voice of new discovery who will serve as front man for Freeland’s eponymous new touring band; meanwhile, Spinnerette / Distillers guitarist Tony Bevilacqua ignites incendiary guitar angles as counterpoint to the kinda jaded words. Filled with paranoiac, satirical wordplay and skewed political commentary that complements the futuristic yet dissident sonics, “Under Control” ultimately proves that rarity in club music: an anti-anthem with a brain, yet with beats ballsy enough to crush dance floors in a neighborhood disco near you. Complimented with a ridiculously lavish remix package including Alex Metric, Zombie Nation, Goldenbug & Evil Nine. 4 individual necessary tracks in their own right.