by amy – October 11, 2014 in Music
Lullabies to Violane, Vol. 1 is a two-disc compilation of songs from the Twin’s singles and EPs released in the 80’s. This disc sat unplayed in the glovebox of my car for years. I don’t even remember exactly how I came upon it. It may have been a gift, or a chance find in a used cd store. This year as the leaves started to turn color and the cool smell of fall was in the air, I decided to pop it in.
I have listened to Cocteau Twins for years. It was only after many casual listens that I became captivated by their music. My love for them blossomed one sleepy autumn afternoon, long ago, as it played in my headphones at work. There is something highly addictive about Elizabeth Fraser’s voice. Her melodies catch in your head and echo in your memory, drawing you back again the more you listen. In the beginning I was never particularly fond of Guthrie’s music. He writes a kind of dreamy rock made with layers of guitars that are affected with shimmering reverb, as if the sound waves are surfacing through water, bending and rippling to give their music its recognizable ethereal quality. The drums offset the guitars with a big and punchy reverberating snare, a classic 80’s snare. Despite the upbeat, midpace tempo, Guthrie’s music remains modestly behind a veil in the background of Fraser’s clear, ringing porcelain voice. You almost forget that the music is even an entity when she’s singing. It’s always humming in the background with a soft, defocused recording quality. It’s fuzzy and textured, sliding you dreamily in and out of washed-out guitar. Sometimes the high frequencies are too trebley, and sometimes I’ve felt drowned in the dull expanse of the mid-range frequencies. But it’s comforting, lulling. And Her. Her voice comes from another world. Her melodies come down from the clouds to pluck you up and carry you away.
As I popped in this compilation, I found myself gliding through all their greatest songs. I have a relationship with this music that I can’t explain. I’ve formed a bond with it. It remains unknowable, yet has become so familiar. It cocoons me in its comforting swing, coming like a close friend to sing in my ear. It is part whimsy, with their playful, nonsensical names like Orange Appled, Iceblink Luck, or Sultitan Itan. But they are ageless even as they are playful, bearing that ethereal quality in music and imagery.
Cocteau Twins speaks to me particularly in autumn. The rich but faded hues of decaying leaves caress my retina as does their music in my ear, inviting one to revel in disbelief at the patterns in the chaos, the mad beauty of transformation. The myriad delicate veins of leaves branching in all directions, and crumbling into a rococo swirl of reds, yellows, pinks, blues, browns. This music pulls me into a half-conscious reverie, and whether I go there by dreaming, flying, falling or disintegrating, I still feel the pulse and the rhythm beating through it all, grounding me from down under and within.