CocoRosie crosses shifting ‘Oceans’

New York: Bianca Cassidy, one half of eccentric freak-folk act CocoRosie, describes the group`s new album, ‘Grey Oceans,’ as a "metamorphosis."

From the improvisational recording process to the transition to label Sub Pop, the American-born, Paris-based duo underwent a makeover while creating its fourth album, due May 11.

"It`s quite a messy trail to retrace," says Cassidy, who began recording with her sister, Sierra, in 2003. Although the band`s haunting fusion of folk, pop and blues remains at the core of "Grey Oceans," CocoRosie`s shifting circumstances inspired the act to toy with its experimental sound.

"We just had so many changes going on with this record that we were going all over the place stylistically," Cassidy says.

After spending 2007 touring behind third album "The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn," the sisters conceptualized a follow-up with engineer Nicolas Kalwill in Buenos Aires. For the first time, CocoRosie entered the studio with nothing prepared, leading to a looser yet more arduous process.

"It allowed us to let go mentally and get lost in the music," Cassidy says, "but it was also really hard and took longer than we wanted. Next time we think we`ll demo everything beforehand."

CocoRosie spent a year and a half working on "Grey Oceans" on multiple continents, writing and recording in Buenos Aries, Paris, Berlin, New York and Melbourne, Australia. In a departure from the duo`s previous efforts, a group of musicians appears throughout the new album, among them jazz pianist Gael Rakotondrabe. Cassidy says that made the studio time "much more luxurious."

The group began searching for a new imprint after longtime label Touch and Go Records ceased operations in 2009. Early in the process, Touch and Go label head Corey Rusk reached out to Sub Pop co-owner Jonathan Poneman, who had long been a fan of the group.

"Corey played me three songs from what would become `Grey Oceans,` and I found them to be even more compelling than their previous work," Poneman says. CocoRosie signed with Sub Pop last February, and Rusk has continued acting as a manager for the band. The deal is for only one album, but Poneman says the label is "taking one step at a time" and would love to continue working with the duo if the release goes well.

CocoRosie also has shot a film with Australian director Emma Freeman, and Cassidy`s artwork will appear in Milan`s "It`s Not Only Rock `n Roll, Baby" musician-led exhibition in June.

Sub Pop plans to market "Grey Oceans" by tapping into the visual artistry of the Cassidys. A promotion through online retailer Insound gives fans a poster designed by Cassidy when preordering the album. CocoRosie also released Web "trailers" that showcase minute-long clips set to album tracks "Trinity`s Crying" and "Smokey Taboo." And the label plans to stream the entire album before its release.

Now with a five-piece backing band, CocoRosie will kick off a European tour April 30 before starting a stateside run in early June.

Bureau Report