Cots releases video for “Devil Does” & EP, Moonlit Building


Photo Credit: Matthew Cardinal


Cots – the Montreal-based solo project of composer, singer, and guitarist Steph Yates has unveiled Moonlit Building, a new EP of five songs produced by Olivier Fairfield that deeply explores the noir aspects of her imagination. The follow-up to the enchanting 2021 debut album Disturbing Body – likened to Feist’s Let It Die by CBC Music, and “the sophistication of Everything But The Girl’s Eden meets the sadness of Portuguese fado” by MOJO – Moonlit Building explores the fringes of Cots’s sonic tapestry, here woven together with strands of folk and bossanova crossed with cinematic, electronic ambience.

Ahead of the release, Cots shared “Devil Does” – a skeletal yet brilliant cloud of dark jazz that wrests levity from the feeling of being possessed. The bed track was recorded to iPhone, maintained here but embellished from its original state – Steph’s meandering nylon guitar and playful yet dour vocals intuited by Fairfield’s stunted drums and colourful synthesis. Her lyrics are economical and beautiful, a fever dream of word-for-word perfection (“My head is hot with the blues”), and resilience (“There’s no way ‘round only through”).

“The experience of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) inspired the lyrics of ‘Devil Does,’” Cots says. “The writing began in deep winter under Montreal COVID curfew. I sent a cellphone recorded demo to Olivier and he added drums and synth. This is one of those cases where the demo could not be improved upon. It became the basis for the final version, cellphone track and all.”

The song arrives with a spellbinding video by Cots collaborator Jenn E. Norton, who previously directed the 3D animation for the Disturbing Body track “Our Breath.” “Devil Does” features Yates clad hair-to-toe in all white, contending with the curiosity of her mind-of-its-own shadow. Continuing the cinematic theme introduced in the titular “Moonlit Building” video, the tension of the unknown adds a menacing din to the scene.

The five songs of Moonlit Building showcase the depth of vision that Cots unfurls with each successive chapter of her musical story. In collaboration with producer Fairfield – who is a member of Boiled records labelmates FET.NAT, an experimental duo Album and contributor to the sonic visions of Andy Shauf – Yates subtly pushes the boundaries of her music, whose influences she detailed recently in an interview with Bandcamp Weekly.

Yates says:

“I have long admired Olivier’s rhythmic sensibility and his knack for moodiness in production, and felt he might be a good match for this set of songs. Working in-studio together was collaborative and experimental: trying things out, trading off instruments, seeing what stuck.”

The centerpiece of the EP, “Devil Does,” is bounded by the title track, a nearly unsettling composition in devolution that drips in midnight aura, and “Flowers (Fresh Cut),” an askew rearrangement of the Disturbing Body mainstay “Flowers,” with robotic percussion pronouncing its ambling essence with mis-emphasis. “The Woman With No Face” is a meditation on a faceless statue Yates spied in Mexico City, set to a spritely but downcast instrumental; while “No Way No How” completes the collection with its most minimalistic vocal arrangements, a simple mantra to contradict the bottomless, methodical and brilliant ambience spiraling around.

In contrast to the sparer beauty of her debut album, on Moonlit Building Cots experiments with noise and elements of sound that further highlight the anti-genre fluidity of her creations. Fittingly, Yates initially cut her teeth in the local Guelph, Ontario DIY scene, where she learned to be “loud, assertive, and unabashedly scrappy” in outfits like Esther Grey and Cupcake Ductape. A startling evolution of her lush sonic palette, the Moonlit Building EP shows how far Cots’s spare and lovely sound can bend without breaking. Each song uniquely deepens the sombre, mysterious attraction of Yates’s off-kilter folk music, absorbing further experimental, noisy qualities from Fairfield’s like-minded accompaniment. As ever, Cots’s crystalline voice carries her songs about love and its consequences, with the erosion of their composition only adding to their beauty.

Listen to Moonlit Building below and stay up to date with Cots via her socials.

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