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Cocorosie is a musical group created by the Cassidy sisters: Bianca (Coco) and Sierra (Rosie).
Their mother, an artist, and their father, a man fascinated by Native American shamanism, encouraged their daughters to learn through travelling around the world, rather than following the traditional route of education. It is through their childhood that the sisters began their relationship with music: Sierra had a growing interest in Classical music, and at the age of 9 Bianca was an accomplished song writer.
Sierra left home at the age of 14 and they lived separate lives for a decade. Sierra became a trained opera singer in Paris and Bianca worked as a poet and artist in Brooklyn.
In 2003 the Cassidy sisters reunited, drawing together Sierra's professional opera singing, and Bianca's childlike hip-hop style. They recorded their first album in Sierra's bathtub. Their third album 'The adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn' was recorded in a barn in the south of France, the distinctive sound and ambiance of the album owing a lot to the background noise of creaking wood and animals.
'The adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn' was produced by Touch and Go records in 2007.
Touch and Go records are an independent record company, based in Chicago, USA.
Other acts signed to this label include Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Butthole Surfers, Shellac, and Dirty Three.
Freak Folk/Hip Hop/New Folk
The album artwork was created by the french artist Pierre et Gilles, an artist (like CocoRosie) with recurring themes of sexuality, religion, homo-eroticism and mythology in his work.
The photograph pictures Bianca at Sierra knee, dressed in drag as a soldier, while Sierra is dressed in victorian attire. Bianca regularly dresses in drag and often portrays herself as male in videos.
1) Rainbow Warriors 3:55
2) Promise 3:37
3) Bloody Twins 1:37
4) Japan 5:02
5) Sunshine 2:58
6) Black Poppies 2:37
7) Werewolf 4:50
8) Animals 6:02
9) Houses 2:56
10) Raphael 2:48
11) Girl and the Geese 0:46
12) Miracle 3:35
This album is quite easily one of my favourites, it is experimental, yet every song works perfectly. This album, as their other albums, has a balance of Bianca's childlike spoken word and Sierra's operatic vocals, although less so of the latter than their other albums. Each song has a narrative, telling stories of their father, shared childhood, sexuality, and their magical view of the world.
It is said that the duo found inspiration in their immediate surroundings for the 'sound' of the songs they recorded; from the faint hum of the sound of the night, to the sounds of the animals occupying the barns nearby (if you listen carefully there is a 'miaow' and a 'moo' in there). The eclectic use of instruments, Sierra playing the harp, piano and guitar, and Bianca's electronic influence (from percussion to children's toys), gives the music a really individual sound.
This album has to be listened to in full, as every song is as good as the last. However as a starting point to get a feel for the band, I would recommend either ''Werewolf'' or ''Japan''. I feel like this album is so beautiful, there is a certain innocence about the way that it has been created- from the bizarre recording, to the unprecedented harmony of the two girls voices, the vulnerable lyrics, to the eclectic range of instruments use. I really enter a magical world of dark innocence listening to their music.
Aside from the beautifully bizarre experimentation, this album also manages to contain 12 catchy songs, each as different from each other as the next, yet still flowing and merged as one whole great album.
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I find nothing more delightful than stumbling upon an album where it is immediately apparent that the artist is trying their hardest to rally against the norm, and to produce something entirely different. CocoRosie is just such an artist whose work is always attempting something new and pushing the boundaries of what defines experimental music.
For those of you unfamiliar with the band, and I'm sure you are a multitude; CocoRosie is made up of Sisters Bianca and Sierra. The young sisters became separated in the year 2000 when Sierra was kicked out of the family home and sent to boarding school. It wouldn't be until 2003 that they would be reunited.
In this time Sierra had started to train as an opera singer and this influence has filtered through to their albums. However, Bianca - who favours rapping as opposed to her sister's singing - is the member who provides the majority of vocals on the album. Opera and rapping eh, what a combination!
Sierra mainly plays the guitar, piano and harp, but what really makes the band's music unusual is Bianca's eclectic choice of instruments. She takes control of various children's toys and electronic/percussive instruments, and the end result is that you hear a wide range of unexpected devices put to great use throughout the LP.
Rainbowarriors opens the album in a big way. A fresh and intuitive blend of rap and opera, it manages to sound far better than it has any right to. Within the intro we have heard everything from horse whines to a kazoo, and Sierra's singing is a delight to hear. The song is such a feel good anthem too; it makes me feel good that this song exists. The otherworldly vocals manage to provide the perfect backdrop for the surrealism within each verse.
Promise was the first song I ever heard by CocoRosie and it was on the strength of this one track that I was persuaded to purchase the album. It is far more laid back than Rainbowarriors, indeed the tempo plods along. Bianca provides rapping and you can also hear her beat boxing in the background. It is probably the most commercial moment on the album, with far less experimentation than the majority of tracks.
After such a good start to the album it has to be said that Bloody Twins is virtually unlistenable. Sierra's voice is reaching for awfully high notes here and she sounds like a cat being chased around with a Dyson vacuum cleaner. Nothing much is going on musically, with only a music box providing backing. One has to concede that the experimentation is flawed in places and never more so than here.
In much the same way, Sunshine is contributed to by Sierra's vocals alone; although this time the results are gorgeous and most striking. The lone, gentle piano notes are most definitely soothing and the vocals are really cordial and beautiful. Never has a minimalist performance been more expertly crafted than here.
Japan is big, bold and bright. Comparable with the opening Rainbowarriors, it is just as life affirming. The lyrics are very tongue in cheek and no more so than when Bianca produces the lyric, "Everybody wants to go to Iraq, but once they go they don't come back". The sing-along chorus, "Everybody wants to go to Japan, everybody just hold hands", will either make your toes curl with how sickly sweet it is or make your head bop along with the semi-ska tempo. I admit with glee that I fall into the latter category.
Black Poppies suffers from the same problems as Bloody Twins. Sierra props her vocals up against an undulating wave of electronic beeps that seem to loop endlessly into one another. The song is far from bad, but compared to some of the other material on the album it is a definite low. Upon multiple listens you will notice that the songs that work the best are the ones in which Sierra and Bianca have an equal share.
Werewolf and Raphael are both showcases for the sisters' expert song crafting. Raphael is the most emotionally charged moment on the album and indeed the instrumental sections between each verse are tear-inducing. The use of what is almost certainly a typewriter as a piece of percussion is an ingenious move on CocoRosie's part and only increases the band's already diverse selection of instruments. The skilfully played harp is also a welcome addition to the song, making it all the more tender and personal.
Werewolf is almost as good. The kazoo is back with a vengeance and it helps make it one of the albums most memorable moments. Again, Sierra's vocals are given a chance to soar and she has rarely sounded as good as she does here. Bianca's rapping style is very likeable and she does a great deal to hold your attention. Well, more than 50 Cent does anyway.
I cannot stress enough just how refreshing it is to find a band that attempt to create something new and different. I praise CocoRosie for producing an album which manages to be so listenable despite quite possibly one of the strangest marriages of genres ever.
If you know what is good for you, you will make an immediate purchase and never look back.
Read more of my reviews at www.danielkempreviews.co.uk
Disc #1 Tracklisting
3 Bloody Twins
6 Black Poppies
11 Girl And The Geese