Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

Heaven or Las Vegas – Cocteau Twins [#576]

Cocteau_Twins—Heaven_or_Las_VegasOh dear me. Scottish shoe-gazing shenanigans with the band’s 1990 release Heaven or Las Vegas.

There I am, at that futile point in ones life where you are dabbling with new scenes, trying to find a genre you identify strongly with. At the same time, I am exploring cinematography, in particular the works of David Lynch, and watching cult TV series typically featuring 90s yuppies shagging and dinner partying; the media’s way of saying “hey your life is mediocre, this is the life you want”.  When what do I hear? Only Cocteau Twins’ Elizabeth Fraser wailing away on some incidental music.

Later I discover that this Fraser woman is the same woman singing about Pearly Dewy Drops on the Uncut 4AD Sampler CD that I have (it was my very own 4AD3DCD) and on the This Mortal Coil CD I was gushing over.

I happened to mention this to a hipster friend. He was such a hipster, he didn’t have a beard or wear half mast trousers, because beards and half mast trousers would be on trend ten years later and he was too cool to lead a trend so far in the past. Hipster friend pointed out that I “should” like Cocteau Twins and that I should use “arcane internetery” to “obtain” their back catalogue, not just for myself, but to also pass to him so that he could survey the same and ensure that it was truely safe for my delicate ears to digest.

Heaven or Las Vegas is Cocteau Twins’ sixth album. A much more developed sound than their earlier albums and not as abusive to the ears. You could quite happily drive across somewhere like say, Scotland or Ireland, with this on your car stereo without it feeling out of place. Indeed, Fraser’s mumblings are a little more intelligible and soothing than before. Of course, as with most of the albums in my collection, I came to it too late to enjoy the excitement of watching a band grow and blossom. Instead I came to Cocteau Twins at the end of their career, too timid to venture beyond their greatest hits and in a different situation from one where I could sit, chill and absorb at leisure as I could in my twenties.

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Garlands – Cocteau Twins [#510]

CocteauTwins-Garlands-smallWhen I said I liked the Cocteau Twins I should have clarified that I liked a couple of tracks. It’s just that when you mention you like a band you often get inundated with advice about which albums you “should” like.

This is one such case. Apparently I “should” like this album because I’m a “fan”. I can actually understand that because a lot of the album sounds like early Dead Can Dance and there are occasions where you can detect the seeds of early goth, shoegazing and dream pop and it is easy to suggest a recommendation based on hearing other bands of similar sound.

This is the Cocteau Twins’ first album but really, it gets to a point where all Cocteau Twins stuff sounds the same. Indecipherable caterwauling from Liz Fraser droning guitar wibbles from one of the blokes and synthetic moodscaping from the other. If I was held captive in a car driving somewhere late at night in the post rain wetness while perhaps bleeding to death or coming down with a fever, this would probably be ok to listen to.


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Four Calendar Cafe – Cocteau Twins [#493]

Four-Calendar_Café For some reason, for years I thought the Cocteau Twins were a French band. Turned out Liz Fraser was just singing with a mouthful of gobstoppers or something.

This is the band’s seventh album is distinctively different to those that came previously with a much more mainstream appealing focal point and, disappointingly, the singing is intelligible.  Nice, middle class mid-nineties dinner party background for young aspiring professionals trying to show off how cool, hip and in touch with culture they are before they spaff it all off by getting married and having kids.

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Filigree & Shadow – This Mortal Coil [#468]

FiligreeandshadowClassic goth moonings brought to the listener by Ivo Watts-Russell’s 4AD label and their rag tag bunch of artists brought together under one banner.

Filigree is TMC’s second offering. Like other TMC offerings, the personnel making up the band are picked from a variety of 4AD artists such as Dead Can Dance (Peter Ulrich) and Cocteau Twins (Simon Raymonde) but while not as popular, well known or groundbreaking as the first, It’ll End in Tears, Filigree does hold its weight with some interesting interpretations of obscurely excellent songs. Originally released as a double album with each side an aural blend, the masterful production was lost on release in CD format and moreso in digital file.

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Black Sessions – Cocteau Twins (#195)

Black Sessions - Cocteau Twins Black Sessions – Cocteau Twins 

More haunting ethereal songs, this time from the Scottish masters of the genre – Cocteau Twins.

During the height of the ethereal genre and 4AD’s dominance of new wave music, the Cocteau Twins were the band that was synonymous with the genre. Liz Fraser, Robin Guthrie and Will Heggie seeded the 1990s with their unique sound and, quite often, featured on television and film soundtracks.

Of course I wasn’t much of a fan. I’m still not. But having heard them not only on the Uncut: 4AD compilation  and the soundtrack for the film Lost Highway I was intregued to find out more. So I did my usual thing of downloading all their back catalogue. Over time I’ve deleted many of the albums I had, purely because their works are too similar. Those that remain feature only the songs that I like. Black Sessions is a live recording of the band when the were featured on the French radio station France Inter. I kept this in hope that I might become more enamoured with the band. I didn’t.

So for that reason, I can never be a hipster.

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