The almost impossibly elegant and ethereal Scottish trio Cocteau Twins are reuniting for the Coachella Valley Music Festival on Saturday, April 30 (joining the similarly reforming Bauhaus, and in the wake of last year’s incredibly successful Pixies re-amalgamation). Elizabeth Fraser, Robin Guthrie and Simon Raymonde will take the stage as Cocteau Twins for the first time since 1996. The Twins also hope to play a series of festivals and other exclusive events beginning in June and continuing into the fall.
Coachella promoter Paul Tollet, who was instrumental in booking the Pixies for last year’s festival said, “With Cocteau Twins, I just kept persevering. Their booking agent helped me with Pixies, and this year he helped me with Cocteau Twins.”
In the last few years, each member has been active in many areas of music and film: vocalist Fraser is featured on the Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers soundtrack and has collaborated with artists such as Massive Attack, Peter Gabriel and most recently, the composer Yann Tiersen.
Guthrie, Rickenbacker-slinging guitarist and sound-sculpter, and bassist Raymonde formed the record label Bella Union, which Raymonde now runs (roster includes The Dears, Explosions in the Sky, Laura Veirs). I highly recommend the exquisite label compilation At Least You Can Die With a Smile on Your Face.
Guthrie recorded his first solo album in a twenty-year recording career in ’03, the exquisitely spacious and airy Imperial, in which he creates a diaphanous, evanescent, imperturbable world out of just his guitar and the occasional keyboard. This is a modulating, indistinct musical ambience that arrives and departs through unperceived apertures in the space-time fabric and boast passages so quiet and still as to blur the line between something and nothing. Yet taken as a whole, Imperial is so tangible that the listener may scan the room for physical residue of the music when the disc concludes. Wow.
Guthrie just completed the soundtrack album for the upcoming Gregg Araki film Mysterious Skin, due out this summer, and he also half of the Violet Indiana duo.
During their fifteen years together, Cocteau Twins released eight mostly exceptional studio albums (in addition to numerous EP’s and collaborations): Garlands (1982), Head Over Heels (1983), Treasure (1984), Victorialand (1986), Blue Bell Knoll (1988), Heaven or Las Vegas (1990), Four Calendar Café (1993), and Milk & Kisses (1996).
Producer John Fryer Fryer (Head Over Heels, Sunburst, Snowblind) described the essence of the band’s sound to me in a phone conversation. “It was drum machines that sound like drum machines – not trying to make them sound too real – and very lush processed guitars. Basically it’s just a distortion pedal, long delays, long reverb, and you make the whole thing float.”
It did, and now it will again.