Cots Releases Their Enchanting Debut Album, Disturbing Body & Shares New Video
Cots gives Atwood Magazine a track-by-track deep dive on the album, read & stream HERE
“A fascinating English language affair which evokes both the sophistication of Everything But The Girl’s Eden and the sadness of Portuguese fado” – MOJO
“Cots leans into gentleness” – Exclaim!
Disturbing Body, the intimate debut album by Cots, paints a celestial portrait of lost love and consequence. The solo project of Montreal/Guelph composer, singer, and guitarist Steph Yates blends elements of bossa nova, folk, jazz, and classical against a modern art backdrop, her subtly unconventional style brushed across its lush palette. Sparked by the power of celestial mechanics and her fascination with mathematics’ vast poetic potential, Disturbing Body explores the unexplainable interactions of interstellar bodies and human beings alike. The title – inspired by the phrase for a planet whose gravitational pull alters another planet’s course – speaks similarly to the disruptive nature of love.
Released today, at the height of Perseids meteor season, the ten songs of Disturbing Body are asterisms drawn to Yates’s mellifluous voice, to her cryptic tales flushed with pastel colour. “Flowers” presents Cots’s masterful blend of the delicate and the macabre: a gorgeous meditation on death that highlights her provoking lyricism. “Our Breath” showcases the album’s experimental tint and sundown habitat, softly flooded with warbled vocal effects and hand drums radiating ambience.
The album’s opening track, “Disturbing Body,” is a starry, forlorn, askew dirge that pulls you into its mysterious space with Yates’s enchanting voice: Searching for your disturbing body / The math doesn’t add up when I do it alone, amidst quiet passages of metallic percussion, bass solo, and strands of near silence. It is the perfect bookend to the album’s closing passage, “Midnight at the Station”: mysterious and lonesome, melodious yet vividly disquieting, an ambiguous end to the off-kilter note it began on.
“Inertia of a Dream” is the apex of the reverie, closing side A on a patient breeze and somnambulant shuffle. A song about the stasis of fantasy, and the trouble of existing in two worlds at once,Yates reveals “there is an allusion here to the song “Este Seu Olhar” by Tom Jobim, which has the lyrics: Mas a ilusão / Quando se desfaz / Dói no coração / De quem sonhou / Sonhou demais. This roughly translates to: But the illusion / when it comes undone / hurts in the heart / of the one who dreams / dreams too much. Accompanied by a split screen video created by Yates, the duality and coexistence of things, earthly and skybound, are clearly apparent.
After residual effects of a concussion left Cots uncertain how to finish the record on her own, she reached out to Toronto musician and producer Sandro Perri about working together – his production notes of “play louder” and “sing plainer” eventually making indelible marks on the contours of each song. Disturbing Body found its rhythm over four cosy days in Guelph, Ontario, at The Cottage studio, run by Canadian veteran recording artist and engineer Scott Merritt. The result saw Yates’s crystalline vocals and intricate guitar entwined with Perri’s atmospheric arrangements for Blake Howard (percussion), Josh Cole (bass guitar), Ryan Brouwer (trumpet), Karen Ng (saxophone), Thomas Hammerton (keyboards), and Perri himself (synths, samples, field recordings).
With the elements in place, the deft sonic precision of Disturbing Body evokes Yates’s understated yet detailed songcraft and attention to lyrical play. Over ponderous instrumental incursions, her crystalline voice carries the gravitas of the album’s ten elegiac movements.
“These songs, for the most part, have to do with the heart, something I was shy to write about previously,” Yates reveals. “It’s possible my deepening love for Brazilian music, wherein some of my favourite artists sing freely about o coração, emboldened me in this way. As a collection, the songs give a prismatic view of a lone heart in its course having known closeness and having known loss.”
Across Disturbing Body’s disparate touchpoints and searching melodies – somewhere between the stars and earthly interactions alike – Cots intersects, and starts to make a whole lot of sense. “A cot is a solitary, introspective, and dreamy space. It’s temporary too, suggesting liminality, moving on, passing through. It’s something you leave behind.”
“I find it strange, unsettling, mysterious; how incalculable the experience of feeling drawn to someone is,” Yates closes. “Human bodies are like celestial ones; just as a planet’s course is carved out in relation to others, our course – where we go and what we do – is compelled by forces of attraction.”
Disturbing Body is out today via Boiled Records on vinyl and digital formats. Cots will perform songs from the album in a special live collaboration with Olivier Fairfield (of FET.NAT, Timber Timbre, Album, Andy Shauf, and more) on Sunday, August 22 at 8pm ET on Bandcamp Live. Tickets are $8 on sale HERE.
Release Date: August 11, 2021
1. Disturbing Body
2. Bitter Part of the Fruit
3. Sun-Spotted Apple
5. Inertia of a Dream
7. Salt or Sand
8. Our Breath
9. Last Sip
10. Midnight at the Station