CUTS - EP1 | Album Review | By Volume

Understand that I am only as he made me: a faithful servant to all of the noise, all of the lights, all of the flashing in my head. Laura Stevenson - Wheel
CUTS_EP1_pakshot_lo

CUTS

EP1

Impressive and on the cusp of breathtaking, but there’s a little missing.

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Author: on August 14, 2014
6.4
Invada Records
August 18, 2014

It begins with noise, and that tortured sound sets the tone well for CUTS’ debut EP. It starts like the building of tears, held back, whimpering and moaning. Those sharp oscillations never lash out, never scream or shout, signalling the theme of the release: aching helplessness, the need to act and the inability to do so. That need is only accentuated by the intangible nature of CUTS’ sound, combining often beatless soundscapes with unintelligible, whispering vocals. Nothing is clear; CUTS haven’t made their identity open, their motive known or anything of the sort. The interests in (and influences of) the transitions between dream and reality, entwined during sleep paralysis, quite clearly stand out in the sonic palette. Caustic riffs, rumbling bass and fuzzy atmospherics encircle, forming a whirlwind of poignancy and awe. For a whirlwind to really impact however, it needs to hone some movement with intent.

With its amalgamation of noise and post-rock soundscapes, EP1 often finds standing on the edge, immobilised. “CUTS 03” unfurls and swells into a voice-led alt-pop number, both anthemic and pleasant, but the progression is a linear one that doesn’t build well. The groggy opener suffers from something similar, drudging in clouded sirens, though never dragging the ears along with. On “CUTS 04”, ponderous thrashes are carried by ambitious atmospherics that look up and leap, so near but so far from really soaring. There are a few things that EP1 aren’t, yeah. There’s a lot that EP1 is though, and CUTS has done a damn good job of exploring several different sides of their sound’s shape. The percussion on “CUTS 02” is a particular highlight, creating the first moments on EP1 that really impress, with well-paced, driving beats reminiscent of Forest Swords. They break down into a delicate melody that dances across the horizon of static noise, tracing shimmering patterns in the soundscape, the kind that make one freeze and appreciate what’s happening — paralysed or not, dreams aren’t always nightmares. CUTS dives into the realm of techno on the final track, setting a rolling beat in motion before channeling synths to bring down the world around us in what makes for an impressive finishing flourish.

The disappointments on EP1 concern things that could have — should have — been. Take that commanding percussion on “CUTS 02” that works so well; CUTS attempts to work a similar idea in “CUTS 03” and ends up stifling its effects, unhelped by vocals try to take the lead without ever taking hold of our hand. EP1 impresses, however one can only wish for a truly breathtaking moment. With sleep paralysis, the distinct lack of control makes for a passive experience, and perhaps emulating that is what stops EP1 from hitting those heights. You have to turn it up to force something truly commanding out of some of those drums, you need to make the riffs that much more searing. You need those visual stimulants that CUTS has prepared to match all the record’s audio. You can’t shape the dreams and nightmares of reality hovering around you, and that’s all you wish you could do.

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