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Cocteau Twins Reunite for Coachella

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.

About Eric Olsen

  • http://www.kolehardfacts.blogspot.com Mike Kole

    Thanks for this item. I was first introduced to the Cocteau Twins via their album “Treasure” and was immediately hooked. They lost me with the later albums, from “Heaven or Las Vegas” on, but I would be very interested in checking out their solo stuff, which I did not know even existed.

    I hope they and Bauhaus keep playing beyond these limited dates and make it to the US for a tour.

  • Eric Olsen

    thanks Mike, I think the earlier stuff is more “magical” in that the approach was so fresh and unique, but I like a lot of the later material also – besides the solo stuff and all kinds of collaborations, they were also a key part of This Mortal Coil.

    It would be great to see both the Twins and Bauhaus continue beyond Coachella, I agree: though I love some of both Peter Murphy solo and Love and Rockets, there is nothing that sounds quite like Bauhaus.

  • http://norevolution.blogspot.com Miguel

    I saw Bauhaus twice. It was 1979 or 1980 at Omni’s (capacity approx. 200) in Philly; then again in 1982 or 1983 at Ripley on South Street in Philly (capacity approx. 1000). And even though my musical taste has veered quite a bit since then, I remember being absolutely mesmerized by them. Then in ’84, I saw Tones on Tail (East Side Club, Phila.). Later that year or the next, I saw David J solo. And in another year or two Love & Rockets came ’round. Saw them too. All in tiny clubs before radio hits and what not. Finally, in about ’88 or ’89, I saw Peter Murphy solo at Revival (Philly, capacity @750-1000). All the solo shows and new bands were very, very good as well. But none came close to those two Bauhaus shows. Sure hope they’re good at Coachella.

  • Eric Olsen

    Super cool Miguel, thanks! I have seen the various configurations and solo endeavors also, but not Bauhaus – I’m envious