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Only Heaven (Ninja Tune)

was genuinely surprised to hear this new one from Ninja Tune founders
Coldcut. They were my introduction to the label in the 90s, and their
Let Us Play album remains a classic to my ears. The released one
other album ten years later in 2006, and perhaps with the advent of
this EP we can expect another full-length in 2017, again ten years after
their last. Three of the cuts on this one feature Roots Manuva on
vocals, and his flow and style are well complemented by the almost
twee groove of the title cut. It has the same old glamour sparkle
that characterized one of their earliest singles, “Autumn Leaves,”
with a chorus vocal by Deanna DellaCioppa that hits the spot.
“Dreamboats” is the other Roots Manuva contribution, with a
slightly grimier, dirtier edge in its crunchy beats and with a lofty
chorus from vocalist Roses Gabor. Gabor is the lead vocalist on
“Donald’s Wig,” an uptempo jam about you-know-who, a track that
feels somewhat at odds with the more languid slack of Only Heaven’s
downtempo numbers.

Only Heaven by Coldcut

Even more confounding is “Creative,” a jaunty
two-step-meets-house number that is sandwiched between the first two
Roots Manuva cuts. The last cut feels like a bookend to “Only
Heaven,” sharing a similar glockenspiel hook and Roots’ vocal,
though the duties in this one are shared with Yaminah Maytah. The
push and pull between masculine and feminine, downtempo and upbeat,
downtrodden and nervous, all reinforce Coldcut’s nod to the
tumultuous times of a bitter American election year, but those
contrasts have almost always been at the core of Coldcut’s music.
Whether assembling together dozens of samples or working with very
different voices, Coldcut have always mined the irony of contrast to
the best of their abilities. They’ve proven themselves over decades —
their debut was 30 years ago in February — between their music and
their label, and Only Heaven feels like a welcome return.

Buy it: Ninja Tune Shop