Cocco: Zansaian

There’s no need for me to write this review because Keikaku said everything I want to say about Zansaian. That’s what I get for snoozing on the job — I get scooped.

If you don’t want to click on the link, here’s an excerpt which sums up the album nicely:

Cocco’s purportedly tumultuous psyche may have brought her career to a halt, but it was clearly fertile material for her to draw upon. Without it, the ensuing placidity has ushered in an album of blandness.

That’s better than what I would have said. I still, however, would like to posit about the psyche of Cocco.

Pain isn’t a requisite for great art, but some folks can make a fine living from channeling it.

Cocco was 19 years old when she released her self-titled debut EP nearly a decade ago. She was barely out of her teens when she tells a lover: "I want to … Tear you apart/Break you/Seduce you tenderly/Damage you, Strangle you" ("Kubi")

She spent her early 20s exorcising her demons, and in 2001, she had enough and retired. Cocco published some picture books and cleaned up some beaches, taking five years of baby steps to her comeback in 2006.

Cocco is pushing 30 now. She was still practically a girl when she created the work by which she is judged today, but now she is a woman. What effect would that have on her music? Nothing that can’t really explained away by common sense.

"Hope I die before I grow old" so goes the line. First generation rock ‘n’ rollers who weren’t snuffed out by sex and drugs nowadays write about their children and friends, as John Hiatt recently admitted on the A&E show, Breakfast with the Arts. Not very thrilling topics for the 18-25 demographic.

Cocco’s recent work isn’t steeped in the dark menace of her earlier material. Her 2005 collaboration with members of Quruli (Singer Songer) is downright jubilant. The more experimental tracks on Zansaian explores genres incongruous with the established perception of Cocco. We heard her sing children’s songs — how does a cabaret number such as "Swinging night" fit in her muse?

The tumultuous psyche of yore is perhaps calming down, and it was Cocco’s bread and butter in the past. Now she faces the challenge of maturing while still appealing to her audience, a daunting task by any measure.

While Zansaian isn’t her best work — it’s right down there with Kumuiuta — the emerging brightness in her music is encouraging. There’s so much intensity in her first four albums, it’s somewhat of a relief to see some of it loosening up.

The trade-off, of course, is less compelling work, and the challenge for Cocco is to find a balance — how much of that angst should she retain as she gives room to a broader spectrum of expression?

The failure of Zansaian is something of a success. She’s not an angry young woman anymore, but it’s not quite certain what she is now. Personally, I’m glad she’s starting to relax.