Pioneering electronic musicians Coldcut are set to mark their 30th Anniversary with a series of groundbreaking audiovisual concerts taking place across Europe, kicking off with a headline show at London’s Village Underground. The band have been busy in their thirtieth year. As well as releasing their hotly anticipated new album ‘Outside the Echo Chamber’ with Adrian Sherwood, the duo’s first for ten years, Coldcut have also been developing new tech throughout the year, as well as brand new music and art creation software.
The anniversary concerts will see Coldcut’s classic visuals ‘repainted’ using ‘Style Transfer’, a new technique which harnesses AI technology to interpose the visual tone of one image over another. This will be the official launch of this AI tech in a live environment, arising from a collaboration with the Deepart team from the University of Tubingen, who invented the technique. The duo have also just released their free app Pixi Player, which they use live to automatically make abstract art whilst they play.
As well as their anniversary shows, Coldcut have kept themselves busy creating MidiVolve, a state-of-the-art composition software for Ableton that offers producers and DJs an astonishing set of tools to develop novel riffs and rhythms. Launched earlier this summer, MidiVolve has already become Ableton’s best selling pack so far this year.
Combining this with their Jamm app, the duo are lining up a series of fresh musical collaborations with electronic music contemporaries. Black and More are also developing new top-secret FX hardware with a leading modular synth crew, offering a new way of processing sound for amateurs and pros alike, with a release expected before Christmas.
Coldcut have lain at the forefront of mashup culture for decades, and these new projects are just the latest chapter in a career spent bringing remixing – of art, technology, and ideas – into the mainstream. Matt Black and Jon More have never been renowned for their ability to sit still; on 21st September, neither will their audience.
Discussing the upcoming projects, Matt Black said: ‘”I hope we’ve made a fruitful contribution to the growth of electronic music and culture over the last thirty years, and that people will see that reflected in these new shows”‘
Jon More added: ‘And we’re both still talking to each other, which is a result!’
For decades Coldcut have been renowned not just for their talent, but for the way they’ve consistently expanded their interests in new directions – the jumps, tonal shifts, and insistent rhythm of their career could rival the most restless and insistent of their music. After making such ripples early in their career (their debut release ‘Say Kids What Time Is It?’ became the first track by a UK artist to “the first Brit artists to really get hip-hop’s class-cutup aesthetic” (SPIN, Dec. 1996)), many artists could be forgiven for slowing down and basking in their success. Instead, Coldcut immediately embarked on a dizzying array of projects.
Soon after reaching consistent chart success with the likes of Yazz and Lisa Stansfield, the duo founded Ninja Tune, having grown tired of the mechanistic process that then characterised major label culture. The label is now recognised as one of the world’s most pioneering independents, representing the likes of Bonobo, Young Fathers, and Roots Manuva, along with many others on its Big Dada and Counter Records imprints.
Not content with being confined to music, however, Black and More have also consistently reached into other creative wells. The band’s projects have extended far beyond music, encompassing video games (Top Banana, 1991), audiovisual software (VJamm, 1997), and an app with half a million downloads (Ninja Jamm, 2013); earlier this year Black and More even combined these diverse projects, releasing their new single ‘Robbery’, accompanied by a video game app set in a Gilliam-esque world in which banks have stolen everyone’s savings.
In keeping with the spirit of experimentation and discovery that has characterised so much of the electronic movement over the last several decades, Black and More have found themselves constantly reworking and retooling whatever technology they have to hand – from software and programming, to musical and visual art itself. It is this carefree, freewheeling spirit, more than anything, that defines Coldcut. Their artistic statement is their sense of adventure itself – and thirty years on, the adventure is still in full flow.
Coldcut 30th Anniversary show dates
UK: Village Underground (London) – Sept 21
Belgium: AB Club (Brussels) – Sept 27
Switzerland: Kaserne (Basel) – Oct 6, Fri-Son (Fribourg) – Oct 13
Germany: Gretchen (Berlin) – Oct 21
Italy: Monk Club (Rome) – Oct 27, Locomotive (Bologna) – Oct 28
Greece: Gagarin 205 (Athens) – Dec 8
Greece: Principal Club (Thessaloniki) – Dec 9
UK: Ramsgate Music Hall (Ramsgate) – Nov 4 (DJ Set)