Saturday, September 12, 2009

Cocteau Twins - "Heaven Or Las Vegas"

Third post, and already slightly off-topic. Anyone familiar with Cockteau Twins and their music will be fully aware that this is pop-music territory. Certainly the subject of this post, the 1990 release “Heaven Or Las Vegas”. Lots of melodic content, hooks, riffs, choruses...

But those traits are just not what endeared me to this bands sound when I first heard them. On the contrary, I fell head over heels in love with the dizzy, swooning sound of the guitars and keyboards, the lazily pulsating bass, and of course Elizabeth Fraser's ethereal, weird (and sometimes nonsensical) vocal delivery. Behind the well-crafted songs, beautiful chord-progressions and stunning melodies, there is this great, fluffy wall of texture and character to the sound. Guitarist Robin Guthrie does his thing, which means a mixture of both clean and distorted guitar figures, drenched in reverb, delay and various modulation effects. There is to much of the album a certain clean guitar sound reminiscent of what Robert Smith of the Cure sounded like in the late eighties – but taken further out in the clouds.
Heavily layered keyboard sounds, background vocals and sometimes guitar feedback, adds to this soup, along with drums that sound hand played, but slightly synthetic in their sound.
Listening through the album, it becomes quite obvious how well-produced – in addition to well-played and composed – it is. Bearing in mind that the band produced the album themselves (and considering the result), it is hardly surprising that at least Guthrie has made a producer-career for himself after Cockteau Twins disbanded in 1998.
This is one of my favorite albums of all time, one that keeps getting rotation on my stereo, whenever I'm in that special mood.
I remember wondering years ago what sort of illegal substance might physically induce the sort of bliss I felt, listening to tracks like the opener “Cherry Colored Funk” or the title track itself. Luckily for me – since I'm not a drug-user – the music alone does the trick.

Get the album:
Heaven Or Las Vegas

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