Jonathan More and Matt Black got their start, not surprisingly, as radio DJs, working at the pirate station Network 21 during the first half of the '80s, latching onto the snowballing club scene during the mid- to late '80s. Their claim to early fame, 1987's Say Kids, What Time Is It?, was modeled on the cut'n'scratch turntable aesthetic of underground deck heroes like Grandmaster Flash and Double D Steinski. Widely regarded as the U.K.'s first breaks record and an influential force in bringing an identity to London's nascent club culture, the record opened as many doors for More and Black as it did for DJs, bringing scads of production and remix work their way. The attention (and royalties) also allowed them to launch their Ahead of Our Time label, succeeded by Ninja Tune and Ntone, which together have been home to some of the most acclaimed and influential artists of London's post-rave underground scene, including DJ Food, 9 Lazy 9, Up, Bustle Out, and the Herbaliser.
Coldcut scored a U.K. Top 20 hit with their debut full-length, 1989's What's That Noise?, which included the Top Ten single "Doctorin' the House" (with Yazz the Plastic Population) as well as collaborations with Lisa Stansfield, Junior Reid, and Mark E. Smith. 1990's house-centric Some Like It Cold included the Queen Latifah-featuring "Find a Way," which also reached the U.K. charts. Following a befuddled contract with Arista, which yielded 1993's downtempo Philosophy, the name Coldcut remained in legal channels for the following few years. The intervening period found the pair no less active, releasing a flood of material under different names and continuing to work with young groups. The Coldcut name returned to More and Black in 1995, and the pair celebrated with a mix CD as part of the Journeys by DJ series dubbed 70 Minutes of Madness. The release was credited with bringing more attention to the sort of freestyle mixing the pair were always known for through their radio show on KISS FM, Solid Steel, and their steady club dates, a style that later took off through clubs like Blech and the Heavenly Sunday Social.
In 1997, Coldcut finally released another full-length, Let Us Play!, which included guests such as Jello Biafra and Ninja Tune labelmates Hexstatic and the Herbaliser. A year later, the pair followed up with the remix album Let Us Replay!, which was packaged with a CD-ROM including music videos and a demo of the group's interactive VJamm software. Numerous mix CDs and 2001's Re:volution single appeared before they returned in 2006 with Sound Mirrors, a slick album that recalled their debut. The duo completed a 100-date audiovisual world tour in support of the album.
Following Sound Mirrors, Coldcut largely kept busy on the business and technological fronts. Black co-developed a "granular video synthesizer" titled Granul8, and the duo released a music production app called Ninja Jamm. Ninja Tune maintained their highly productive release schedule, celebrating their 20th anniversary in 2010 with Ninja Tune XX, an exhaustive box set including six CDs of remixes and rarities, six 7" singles, and a hardcover book. In 2016, Coldcut resurrected their earliest label, Ahead of Our Time, and released The Bullnose Step EP, the first release in 25 years by their little-known Bogus Order alias. They also issued Only Heaven, a Coldcut EP featuring Ninja Tune regular Roots Manuva. In 2017, Coldcut and legendary dub/post-punk producer Adrian Sherwood (credited as On-U Sound) released the collaborative album Outside the Echo Chamber, featuring guest contributions from Manuva as well as Lee Scratch Perry, Ce'cile, Dennis Bovell, and others. Bogus Order's Zen Brakes, Vol. 2 appeared soon afterward. Coldcut collaborated with the South African collective Keleketla!, whose 2020 self-titled debut featured Tony Allen, Shabaka Hutchings, and the Watts Prophets, among numerous other artists. In 2021, Coldcut compiled 0, an ambient compilation with proceeds going toward three mental health-related charities, featuring artists such as Ryuichi Sakamoto, Sigur Rós, and Laraaji. ~ Sean Cooper & Paul Simpson, Rovi
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