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The Casady sisters return with another creaking beauty.“That's very difficult for us to do,” says Bianca Casady, one half of the sister duo, CocoRosie. I've asked them to describe their music. “It's sort of an eclectic montage,” she tries. “There are distinct classical influences. There's opera singing and we work with our beatboxer Spleen, who does vocal percussion. We float around between a few different instruments and use a bunch of unconventional percussion things. Like toys. That's the best I can do. I think our music's a little bit scary at times.” What's scary about it? I ask. Bianca smiles. “Well, I think my voice is kinda scary.”
In a way she's right. The music her and her older sister, Sierra, make is certainly unconventional: intimate, dreamlike and crackling. The haunting sounds of harps and acoustic guitars broken up by glitchy beats, the noise of Speak’n’Spell and one of those tin cans that moos like a cow when you up-end it. Bianca’s voice, reminiscent of Billie Holiday in its cracked blues vernacular, weaves in and out of Sierra's softer, more operatic tones. But if you’re not scared by its oddity, it’s the sort of music you'll fall in love with.
The pair began making music when Bianca turned up unannounced on the doorstep of Sierra's apartment in Paris, where she was finishing her classical music studies. They hadn't seen each other for over a year. “I was living in New York and decided to just go somewhere,” explains Bianca. “I didn't really know what I was doing or where I was going, I was just running away. I stopped in Paris and didn't intend on staying, but something magical occurred and we were enjoying ourselves so much that I didn't leave. It's something we can barely recall, the notion to record. But there was a sort of impulse to document what was happening, so I bought a really simple recording device and the whole first record spilled out of us. It was just a whim. A strange whim.”
Now they're just about to release their second album, Noah's Ark, this time recorded away from the intimate confines of the Parisian apartment, on the road. “That strange glamour we possessed due to the isolation in Paris actually reappeared in different forms,” recalls Sierra. “We were able to render that really intimate space that we share, even as we travelled. That meant pulling over on the side of the road and just recording in a field, or taking a moment in a barn in the South of France, or a studio in Brooklyn.”
The new album is cut from the same strange cloth as the first one but it's more diverse. As well as the extended recording environment, the album features collaborations with like-minded souls, such as Devendra Banhart and Antony (without The Johnsons), who lends his astounding falsetto to Beautiful Boyz: “The people that we chose really fit the part and were really close to us during the process,” says Bianca. “It sort of reflects where we're at during this time, as opposed to the first record which really reflects being removed from everything.”
CocoRosie are no longer reclusive, holed-up in Paris recording in a bath tub because it's the most intimate place they can find. They're out and about in the world, and it's certainly nothing to be scared of.
CocoRosie – Noah’s Ark, released 12 September 05 on Touch & Go.
“Tekno Love Song is a little bit of a continuation of Haitian Love Songs on the first album, lyric wise. What I was drawing from with the lyrics was the early American blues vernacular and those types of words. But musically it was really inspired by some of our early experiences with techno music. It doesn't particularly come out on the record, but for us it's very much an ode to that early adolescence experience. It's this strange combination between early blues and techno.” Watch Tekno Love Song.
“Really it's about the life story of Jean Genet, which has been a huge inspiration for the last year and during the creation of the album. He was one of our main muses, so it comes from our fascination with him.” Watch Beautiful Boyz.
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