Cuticle CuticleMother Rhythm Earth Memory
In comparison to last year’s EP, there are two significant changes on “Mother Rhythm Earth Memory”, the debut album by Cuticle, that catch the eye before even pressing play. Firstly, the project is no longer a trio but the solo project of Brendan O'Keefe, and secondly, Cuticle has moved from 100% Silk to the mother label, Not Not Fun. The latter can be heard in the music; the album is like a conceptual bridge, with the songs as lines of communication between the two legs of the platform directed by Amanda and Britt Brown.
On the album Cuticle manages to merge disjointed, danceable abstractions and psychedelic, almost esoteric pop. Something that could already be heard - for example on the the split single by LA Vampires and Ital - only here the sound is more consistent, making it one of the most solid references of the Californian label's catalogue.
After an evocative robotic intro ballad, “Mother Rhythm Earth Memory” reveals “Parallel”. The track shows O'Keefe taking what he had achieved on “Confectioner Beats”, his first triumph on 100% Silk, to the next level. The song reformulates the idea of house deconstruction, not changing the rhythm but the textures. They seem to have been bathed in hydrochloric acid until they become something discoloured and on the verge of falling to pieces, like an old T-shirt that has been washed too many times but keeps its charm because of just that. This modus operandi is one of the pillars of the album: on “Liquid Crystal Drink (Pour My Dream)”, the “victim” is cosmic boogie, which O'Keefe spins around as he pleases. Here he manages to make the unlikely combination of nebulous pop and elements of G-funk, work. “Document Leak” continues on the galactic path, in this case mainly focussing on vocal manipulation with dysfunctional delays and erratic synths. “Narc Girl”, in its turn, sounds like an LA beat scene producer rendering one of his tracks with silenced rhythms. With “Trickle”, the distant pulse returns, this time combined with fragile, fizzy melodies that develop through bubbles of white noise and incidental eruptions of solemn pads. “Night Of Romance” exposes his take on the evolutions of darker than dark pop, torrid and with the techno soul of Matthew Dear, only from a much more disperse and psychedelic viewpoint. On the last song, “Without Form”, the cosmic sound is back again; this time superimposing lethargic disco arpeggios, abrasive sequences, vocals drenched in barbiturates and dislocated melodies. It's no wonder O'Keefe chose it as the closing track, as the kind of crepuscular trance it provokes in the listener is the perfect summery of the general feel of the album.