One of my enduring and favourite memories of 2004 involves a shedload of pills and a ridiculous three-hour electronica/soul/jazz mash up audiovisual mindwarp courtesy of Mr. Scruff. Legendary Ninjatunes founders (the same record label that Mr. Scruff calls home) Coldcut obviously felt on Friday night that having damn near well invented the remix, the concept of the multiple sensory audiovisual assault and with a back catalogue spanning some two decades, they could rest on their laurels. It was a tight, perfectly proportioned set that collated the perfect pick ‘n mix greatest hits, (‘Timber’, the Eric B and Rakim ‘Paid In Full’ remix, ‘Walk A Mile’ and ‘True Skool’, the underground smash from recent album Sound Mirrors) into a slender one and a quarter hours, yet, and this is testament to their undeniable status as the grandfathers of the multimedia mash-up- I could have happily stayed up for several hours more, and left the gig wanting so much more of the same.
Always a heavily political and subversive act, Coldcut (aka Matt Black and Jonathan More) play with notions of media consumption and commercialism, actively encouraging the audience to consume, record and re-edit their material into a personal format that subverts mainstream media constructions of the audience. Influenced by Burroughs’ cut-up theory of writing, and underground 1970s industrial art group Throbbing Gristle as much as the more obvious hip hop pioneers, Black and More’s modus operandi is the break down of perception and reception of an image or sample until it loses all meaning, then build these meaningless fragments back into a new whole. Their VJ sets are the stuff of legend (their VJ software VJamm was the first to apply DJ techniques of scratching and mixing to a visual format) and Friday was no exception. The usual political suspects (Bush, Blair, Brown) were present, but mixed with the trademark humour and biting satire that raises them above the usual standard of attempted politicisation. When you have a career of the calibre of Coldcut’s, when you are one of those rare artists that actually deserve the label “groundbreaking”, and when you’ve spent the last fifteen years constantly stretching and redefining what can be done not only within your genre but with sound and light and technology in general, you can perhaps be allowed to take it a little easy on yourself, and on your audience. Wish to hell they hadn’t, though.
Friday 29th September, Opera House