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Robert R. (flicknife) from CHICAGO, IL
Reviewed on 2/24/2010...
One won't mistake TMC for anyone else. VERY 4AD.
Continuing the collaboration of 4AD talent, but with rather
Christopher Culver | 11/19/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Drawing on the immense and varied talent signed to his record label 4AD, Ivo Watts-Russell created the collaborative project This Mortal Coil, specializing mainly in covers of Russell's favorite songs. A first album called It'll End in Tears appeared in 1984. FILIGREE & SHADOW was the second effort and came out in 1986.
The line-up has changed somewhat on this release. Elizabeth Frazer and Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins don't appear, but their bassist Simon Raymonde came on board and contributed a great deal. Similarly Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard of Dead Can Dance didn't participate, but their drummer Peter Ulrich contributed percussion to some tracks here. The sisters Deidre and Rutkowski, and Breathless singer Dominic Appleton provide here most of the vocals. Two members of Dif Juz contribute a certain ambience.
True to its mission of cover songs, This Mortal Coil here gives us versions of songs by Tim Buckley, Colin Newman, Talking Heads, Pearls Before Swine, Gene Clark, Judy Collins, Colourbox, and Van Morrison. Yet, there is a new use of ambient tracks in between the cover songs, most of which are by Russell and 4AD producer John Fryer. As the album opens, for example, we hear the cello ostinato "Velvet Belly" before Appleton breaks in with the vaguely Gallic vocals of Pearls Before Swine's "The Jeweller". In between QMS' "Firebrothers" and Tim Buckley's "I Must Have Been Blind", we hear the synthesizer murmuring of "Thais".
While I find this album interesting enough as background listening, I don't think it is as successful as most 4AD output of this era, and the goth monotone can become grating. Unlike the first album, which transformed some songs for the better (Chilton's "Kangaroo", Buckley's "Song to the Siren"), we could have gotten by without these covers. Nonetheless, for fans of the 4AD aesthetic, especially its darkwave tendencies, this is an album worth at least encountering."