Press sheets for CocoRosie’s new album The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn tell a tale — “From her humble beginnings in the South of France, the saga sailed the Seven Seas all the way to Reykjavik. Upon return to her Parisian homeland, she shared a mystical rendezvous with mystical sailors…” — offering example of the sister’s Casady spinning a magical yarn around themselves and delving out from normal existence into strange realms, where an evening at Shepherd’s Bush Empire doesn’t quite seem to fit. Luckily the music is the perfect musical embodiment of this and captures the listener off into it’s spirit…
Before the pair and assembled cast took the stage though the crowd were treated to two supports. First up was electro animal Bunny Rabbit, aided by her beat-mistress Black Cracker who layered up sounds for her to rap over and shake her ass to. Sometimes fun, and sometimes funny (dancing with her teddy bear) Bunny Rabbit’s electro-clash hip-hop is always colouful but sometimes more for scene fans.
Next up was French beat-boxer Spleen, whose act was both appealing and techincally impressive. The man can do an awesome bass and knows how to entertain a crowd. Delivering the beatboxer’s trademark set mixing random beats, noises, snippets of compositions, longer developments and covers of classics (including a version of Prince’s “Kiss”, an apparent beatboxer favourite — see also Britain’s excellent Beardyman) with a generally schizophrenic mentality Spleen performed a great set of engaging, hip-hop based noise.
a host of new album moments, notably the singalong classic “Japan” and record opener “Rainbowarriors”
CocoRosie have been making waves iwht their mix of the ethereal and the urban — twinkling electronics, soaring operatic vocals, beatboxing, rap-singing and folky instrumentation. The recent album is another stong effort, developing the previous records’ themes and channeling the sister’s and their collaborating friends’ combined talent into a collection of fascinating downtempo soundscapes. Tonight they played older material as well as having a host of new album moments, notably the singalong classic “Japan” and record opener “Rainbowarriors”. The sisters have an engaging ability to the set from songs with soaring operatic vocals and theatrical moments of high emotional intensity to light lo-fi hip-hop, from otherwordly stories to political statements to songs about wanting to be a housewife. Their ability to change tack without losing flow or their audience is testament to both their own abilities and the audience’s willingness to relax, cooperate and be taken on the journeys.
The support acts were carefully chosen, not just complimenting CocoRosie’s genre mash but also as at various points all three people played a part in the assembled cast of the headliner’s outfit — Spleen provided the soft beat backbone, and Bunny Rabbit an Black Cracker came out to beef up the vocals and cabaret aesthetic later on in the set.
For the whole of the time CocoRosie played the back of the stage was filled with a melded montage of images such as of ice-skaters, the Casady sisters as children, or as chidlish animated cartoons, the Vietnam war, a mirrored cow head, Britney Spears, hospitals etc, nicely matching the strange mix of moods and styles the group pull together but unlike the music remaining more strange as oppposed to the more comfortable whole forged from the music. The fact that the tempo remains fairly soft helps the congruency but whether the sisters are singing opera or through a toy instrument, whether they are playing piano, guitar or harp in an intimate moment, or alternatively synth or accompanied by a full band sound the other constant is that it’s just pretty interesting, with something always there to listen to, whther it’s rhythms or melodies, lyrics or souds.