By Darcy M. | Music | July 8, 2009 |
By Darcy M. | Music | July 8, 2009 |
I have been following Adam Freeland closely for a number of years now. He was traditionally known as a breakbeat producer and deejay. After going off the grid for a while, he resurfaced last year with a new EP and a Global Underground mix album. Judging by his new songs and the song choices on GU32: Mexico City, Adam Freeland had apparently switched over from breakbeats to a more electro style of music. Even when he was a breakbeat producer, however, he was still broader in his musical style than, say, Plump DJs.
One of the first things about Adam Freeland that caught my attention was his ability to take songs which were not electronic and remix them into something danceable without a) making it suck; or b) sacrificing the essence of the original song (which, when you are crossing genres, can be a difficult feat). This list includes “Seven Nation Army”, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and the Grammy-nominated remix of Sarah Vaughn’s “Fever”. Most recently, in the above-mentioned Essential Mix set, Adam Freeland played a bootleg remix of Grinderman’s “No Pussy Blues”. Eventually this remix made it to Grinderman lead singer Nick Cave (yeah, that Nick Cave) who liked it so much he asked Adam Freeland to do a formal remix for the single.
Freeland is Adam Freeland’s band, of which Adam Freeland is apparently the only actual permanent member (though it appears that he would like to keep new lead singer Kurt Baumann). I say “apparently” because this is only Freeland’s second outing, so it is difficult to chart any sort of trend. Cope™ includes the non-electronic talents of Tommy Lee, Twiggy Ramirez and Joey Santiago. You read that right: this album features musicians from Motley Crue, Marilyn Manson and The Pixies.
Adam Freeland’s solo work and Freeland’s work are quite distinct. The differences are quite prominent as the only song that comes close to sounding like The Hate EP (Adam Freeland’s last release) is “Strange Things”. Much like Freeland’s first album Now and Them, Cope™ bears little resemblance to Adam Freeland’s more esoteric dance tracks. That said, Now and Them and Cope™ bear little resemblance to each other.
Adam Freeland puts much emphasis on his collaborators. I already noted the song “Mancry” in a previous entry as being a standout track on the album, not just thanks to the centerpiece of Tommy Lee’s drum talents. It takes a song that initially sounds like M83 and perfects it thanks to Tommy Lee’s very human yet very impressive drum talents. I am not a Motley Crue fan myself, so I never knew the depth of Tommy Lee’s talent until hearing Cope™, but I must admit that I have a newfound respect for him. The other collaborators also do well, each standing out in their own way. Given the pace and depth of the songs, however, it is easy to miss the great contributions they have made here.
Cope™ as an album is actually a bit disjointed. The first track, “Do Ya” sounds out of place, likely because it was produced long before any of the other tracks were, or before anybody else was brought on board. The slower songs, “Mancry” and “Silent Speaking”, while good, also sound quite out of place. There isn’t a lot of flow, but rather a lot of songs grouped together.
“Only A Fool” is, to be sure, the climax of the album as it features everyone going balls-out crazy. The structure of the song is pure Freeland: pulsing bass and steady beats. Freeland adds great guitar, great synths and, as a cherry on top, vocals from Gerry, the lead singer of Devo (!). There’s something raw about this song that I love.
I would be amiss if I didn’t mention the politics of Mr. Freeland. Unlike the vast majority of electronic music, which is politically sterile, Adam Freeland has never been one to shy away from topics beyond tonight’s party. Now & Them was an interesting album encompassing many different concepts including consumerism and spirituality. Cope™ is not completely politically sterile (see “Under Control” and “Strange Things”), but given the times in which we exist, I expected a more politically charged and possibly indignant spin on the album. Even the title of the album itself and the cover is suggestive of a desperate consumer-based, government-oppressed society being fed panacea from above by a very large controlling hand. The politics do not run throughout the album, however, and I think that they are missed.
Overall, Cope™ is an original album, there is nothing out there that sounds like this. The consequence of having these collaborators is that Cope™ is more rock album than electronic album, and that is the point. Nowhere is more evident than in the more energized (and, somehow more sexualized) cover of David Essex’s “Rock On”. While the energy of Adam Freeland is tempered by his collaborators, the sounds and beats still have a way of getting under your skin. Still, Adam Freeland’s abilities go beyond this album and I don’t think that we are witnessing him at his level best. As an album, it wasn’t fantastic; but I loved many, if not most, of the songs on the album.
Darcy M. spends his days with a gun to his head, reading esoteric modernist proclamations and cultivating vice in Edmonton, AB.