The girls are in bed and it’s just me and Baby Buttface (Toby the Kitten) up and I have one more chapter of my ‘The Road to Little Dribbling‘ (Bill Bryson) book so that I hit up the library for fresh fare prior to our trip out west on Thursday. Oh, and there may or may not be a bowl of Baby Back Ribs flavored chips present as well. Completing the whole evening ambiance is ‘The Moon and the Melodies‘ album by the Cocteau Twins and American composer Harold Budd.
I told you I had good luck at BJ’s Nostalgia & Records.
The album was released by 4AD in November of 1986. The name “Cocteau Twins” did not appear on the release, which instead credited the three members (Elizabeth Fraser, Robin Guthrie and Simon Raymonde) and Budd individually. The album’s heavily treated guitar sounds and euphoric vocalizing could be heard in the group’s other work from the same period, such as the EP ‘Echoes in a Shallow Bay‘ and the album ‘Victorialand‘, making it pretty much right up my alley.
Budd’s stylistic piano tonalities and phrasing on this project were echoed in his solo album ‘Lovely Thunder’, released in the same year. His use of spacious treated piano and keyboard sounds (influenced by a previous collaborator, Brian Eno) combines with the Cocteau Twins’ shimmering waves of guitars and Elizabeth Fraser’s layered wordless vocals to create what amounts to a soundtrack to a dream about sleeping, with saxophones courtesy of Richard Thomas (of the now defunct Dif Juz) breathing further life into the music.
Half the album are instrumentals ( ‘Memory Gongs‘, ‘Why Do You Love Me?‘, ‘The Ghost Has No Name‘ and ‘Bloody And Blunt‘) while the other half features Frazier’s ethereal vocals. The highlight being the the absolutely spine-crackingly breathtaking ‘She Will Destroy You‘, a track that ranks among the Cocteau’s best. Here Liz blabs on about some moth, or creature, or whatever the heck she was writing in her notebooks at the time, and Robin Guthrie sends his guitar straight to the moon, and Budd & Raymonde keep it real in the background with a sparkling, gurgling low-down rhythmness over an ever-present drum machine. Truthfully, I really dig Budd’s instrumentals much better.
However, all in all, the album is still classic 80’s as well as making for classic late night reading ambiance.