Cuckundoo is a new record label based in Leeds, specialising in the more experimental side of music. Their first two signings, Escalade and Vessels have set a high benchmark and, less than nine months since their first release, are ensuring that the label is already hanging off the lips of tastemakers everywhere.
Escalade began as a project for American-born Greg Sullivan as he travelled alone through New Zealand and Japan. Eventually settling in Tokyo, he enlisted the help of drummer Shayne Bowden and bassist Shirabe Gensaku, giving a more ensemble feel and leading Escalade’s music into new realms.
Despite a distance between them of 10,000 miles, Escalade decided to sign with Cuckundoo, who release their debut single X’s and O’s today, with an album to follow next year.
X’s and O’s is a song that will catch you off guard, but when you get it, you’ll fall hard. Over a soft bossa nova beat and distracted, angular guitars, Sullivan sings in a daydreamy voice. Gradually, various drones, drums, effects and harmonies add new layers and textures that slowly suck you in and wrap warmly around you. Flip over and the almost-instrumental Pleasure Treasure does the same in half the time and with twice the number of instruments.
It’s impressively written stuff, simple but clever and always eager to take you where it’s going.
Once the Summer’s Gone live video
Vessels haven’t come from nearly as far afield as Escalade. In fact, Cuckundoo found them right on their doorstep in Leeds. More immediately gratifying than Escalade, their Mogwai and Explosions In the Sky-influenced post-rock is warm and familiar. However, they still have something very much their own to offer.
Their debut double A-side single, Yuki/Forever The Optimist comprised two of their more atmospheric songs. Yuki in particular fits this tag; simple, delay-heavy piano, pulsing percussion and soft, breathy vocals make up the bulk of the song, with guitars, drums and loops bringing it to its euphoric peak before laying it gently back down again. Forever The Optimist is more like straight post-rock but more fiddling with the delay peddle leaves the lead guitar sounding like If My Heart Ever Ran Away It Would Be Looking for the Day When Right Beside You It Could Forever Stay by kid606 and the thick, harmonising vocals are reminiscent of The Copperpot Journals.
The new single, Two Words And A Gesture is also out now. See the band’s MySpace page for details of their self-released 2006 EP.
Altered Beast live video
Knee Jerk (live in session on BBC Raw Talent)