Sometimes things have to get worse before they get better. While the two summers of love were birthed from burdening times, Vietnam and 10 years of Thatcher’s reign, they were one hell of a party. Unprecedented explosions of youth culture which tore down the walls of perception through communal elation and celebration. Cut Copy’s Free Your Mind creates a fantasy of the next youth revolution, binding the two epochs without the negative baggage. An event told in three dimensions. Turn on, tune in…
Participating in the forms of cultural practice that develop in and around the club, the quartet discovered a portal to the UK acid house movement through Melbourne’s booming subterranean dance community. Interacting on the dancefloor without uttering a word, jointly reaching a higher state, feeling involved in a secret society and ultimately becoming one with the music. A sanctuary that’s seemingly only a few degrees away from a bygone era which connected the dots with warehouse locations revealed by hotlines, pirate FM radio and baggy uniform.
The embryonic stage of Free Your Mind saw frontman Dan Whitford take a new approach to songwriting, roughly sketching a song per day for a 4 month period before presenting the fruits to the band and realizing their full potential together. While the album’s themes are at the foreground of the completed work, it was never intended as a concept record; rather ideas buried deep beneath the mind’s eye, unlocked by the collective consciousness of Whitford, Tim Hoey, Ben Browning and Mitchell Scott. Unity in effect.
Recorded in various locations in close proximity to Melbourne’s finest coffee houses, the album was largely an in-house affair before the band enlisted the sonic ear of Dave Fridmann (Tame Impala, MGMT, The Flaming Lips) for mixing duties. Given the psychedelic nature of dance records, Dave Fridmann seemed the perfect match. Pilgrimaging out to his secluded forest base in upstate New York, both parties formed an immediate connection.
Whitford explains “we would cook communal meals for the band, Dave and studio staff, sleep upstairs at the studio and even play badminton on a makeshift court out the back. It had a real feeling of being part of some utopian artist commune, which I guess fitted right in with the feeling of the record.”
Free Your Mind launched in unconventional fashion with a lathe set up at Pitchfork Music Festival, literally cutting and copying 120 dubplates Let Me Show You for the lucky few who were at the right place at the right time. Like an illegal press manufacturing X-TC for the global rave, the experiment gave random youtube user debaser22 the keys to share the experience with fans all over, uploading a crude document of his 1st listen. For two weeks this muddy bootleg was the only reference of the track’s existence, before the band developed a hypnotizing autostereogram that put viewers into the seat of an altered state, setting the tone for a record that invites participation, activates all senses and enlightens the mind.
From using Asger Carlsen’s absurd figure manipulations as press shots, the non-traditionalists have forged further to subvert expectations. Placing huge billboards displaying the phrase “Free Your Mind” in remote areas of the Californian desert, Chile, Western Australia, Mexico City, Wales and Detroit, the band utilized their individual art backgrounds to communicate this mysterious catch cry of an unidentifiable movement.
Whitford adds that Cut Copy are not preaching an agenda, interpretation is left to the imagination, “whether the billboard sits in decrepit suburbs of Detroit, the mountains of Chile or the Aussie outback, people come back with a totally different impression of what it might mean. It’s open ended, with infinite interpretations. I think the concept of freedom is one that’s universally positive and timeless, and whatever each person’s version of that freedom is, it’s a good thing to be reminding people or even just ourselves to be “free”.