THIS MORTAL COIL - Blood
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From Amazon customer review:
First off, background: TMC is the baby of producer Ivo, main man at 4AD
records, which has released a lot of great music from a lot of great
musicians: we're talking Pixies, Breeders, Throwing Muses, Dead Can
Dance, Cocteau Twins, Wolfgang Press, Colourbox (aka M/A/R/R/S - of
Pump up the Volume fame), etc. This is not a tiny indie label that is
built around one decent artist; 4AD rocks.
TMC is Ivo reigning in various 4AD artists and using them in (sadly
only three) albums of uncategorizable, moody music. Most TMC tracks
will involve stringed instruments, ambient electronic, piano, diverse
percussion, the occasional bass, guitar, choir, and then a ton of
sumptuous vocals, almost always female. The first two albums ("It'll
End in Tears" and "Filigree and Shadow") feature 4AD artists more
consistently; "Blood" is largely a tighter group of instrumental
musicians, with vocalists being: predominantly Deirdre Rutkowski;
then Caroline Crawley; and then a couple by Alison Limerick, and the
excellent "You and Your Sister" with Kim Deal (Pixies/Breeders) and
Tanya Donnelly (Throwing Muses/Breeders/Belly).
As for the first two albums: the first (IEIT) was a single LP, and like
the next (F&S) was more varied in direction throughout the songs. F&S
and Blood are 2xLP, full-length CDs, yet Blood is far more consistent
in mood, and flows beautifully. I should mention also, that these two
albums feature a decent amount of instrumental material, which at their
worst are decent segues between songs, and at their best, sound as if
they're soundtrack material for a very moving or otherwise excellent
film. Both these latter two albums are continuously mixed. But Blood is
by far the most consistent effort in terms of maintaining a mood, and
in the worthiness of the individual songs. There is not one track here
I would skip.
For those wondering if this is a "goth" album; no, it isn't, but it IS
melancholy, and that's why a copy of this album is on most Goths'
shelves, as they're the pretentious and melancholy representatives in
the grand scheme of scenes, cliques, sub-cultures, and stereotypes.
But TMC is rarely pretentious; it's very heartfelt, and this album in
particular will likely stick out in your collection for years. I first
heard it in... 1989? and still listen to it as often as just about
anything (and I have a TON of CDs). And in my list of masterpieces -
albums which I think of as flawless - it was the first one that came to
mind. I'm a very eclectic listener, and this disc is a beautiful
representative of an aspect of myself, my musical interests, and my
End note: old Pink Floyd/Syd Barrett fans might want to take note of
the cover of Barrett's "Late Night." Barrett's original recording is
marred by his dysfunctionality; here, it's a total work of art. Geekus
Eclectica (Worcester, MA United States)
1. The Lacemaker
2. Mr. Somewhere
4. With Tommorow
5. Loose Joints
6. You And Your Sister
7. Nature's Way
8. I Come And Stand At Every Door
10. Baby Ray Baby
11. Several Times
12. Lacemaker II
13. Late Night
14. Ruddy And Wretched
15. Help Me Lift You Up
16. Carolyn's Song
17. D.D. And E.
18. 'Til I Gain Control Again
19. Dreams Are Like Water
20. I Am The Cosmos
|This Mortal Coil|
|Genre(s)||Dream pop, gothic|
|Associated acts||Howard Devoto |
Dead Can Dance
This Mortal Coil was a dream pop supergroup led by Ivo Watts-Russell, founder of the British record label 4AD. Although Watts-Russell and John Fryer were technically the only two official members, the band's recorded output featured a large rotating cast of supporting artists, many who were signed to, or otherwise associated with, 4AD. About half of the songs released were cover songs, often of 1960s and 1970s psychedelic and folk acts, which displayed those two genres' place in the history and formation of dream pop. On each of the band's three LPs, at least one song would also be a cover of a 4AD artist, and most of the original songs were instrumentals.
Watts-Russell had founded 4AD in 1980, and the label quickly established itself as one of the key labels in the British post-punk movement. One of the label's earliest signings was Modern English. In 1983, Watts-Russell suggested that the band re-record two of their earliest songs, "Sixteen Days" and "Gathering Dust," as a medley. At the time, the band was closing their sets with this medley, and Watts-Russell felt it was strong enough to warrant a re-recording. When the band rebuffed the idea, Watts-Russell decided to assemble a group of musicians to record the medley: Elizabeth Fraser and Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins; Gordon Sharp of Cindytalk; and a few members of Modern English. An EP, Sixteen Days/Gathering Dust, resulted from these sessions.
Recorded as a b-side for the EP was a cover of Tim Buckley's "Song to the Siren," performed by Fraser and Guthrie alone. Pleased with results, Watts-Russell decided to make this the a-side of the 7" single version of the EP, and the song quickly became an underground hit, leading Watts-Russel to pursue recording a full album under the This Mortal Coil moniker.
It'll End In Tears
Released in 1984, It'll End in Tears featured musical efforts from 4AD staples like Robin Guthrie and Simon Raymonde (Cocteau Twins), Steven Young and Martyn Young (Colourbox), Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry (Dead Can Dance), and Mark Cox (The Wolfgang Press), among others, with vocals from Fraser, Sharp, Modern English's Robbie Grey, and Howard Devoto (Buzzcocks/Magazine). Watts-Russell and Fryer handled any additional instruments or programmed loops as needed. The track listing featured two songs from Big Star's Third/Sister Lovers, plus numbers by Roy Harper and Wire's Colin Newman, in addition to band originals. It'll End in Tears helped crystallize 4AD's emerging signature sound, and helped win a wider audience for their stable of artists. The composition was featured in David Lynch's feature Lost Highway, but does not appear on the soundtrack for that movie.
Filigree & Shadow
Fryer and Watts-Russell put together a follow-up album, Filigree & Shadow, which was released in 1986. A sprawling and more varied collection, Filigree & Shadow covered songs by Tim Buckley, Colin Newman, Talking Heads, Pearls Before Swine, Gene Clark, Judy Collins, and Van Morrison in between the original compositions. The Cocteau Twins' Simon Raymonde was still a significant presence, and string player/arranger Martin McCarrick took a bigger role this time around; Steven Young and Mark Cox both returned, and members of Dif JuzDominic Appleton (also of Breathless), Deirdre Rutkowski and Louise Rutkowski, and a pre-dance diva Alison Limerick. were also prominent. Most vocals were by
Much of the same core cast — Watts-Russell, Fryer, McCarrick, Appleton, Limerick, and the Rutkowskis — was on hand for the third and final This Mortal Coil album, the tighter Blood, issued in 1991. New guest vocalists included Caroline Crawley of Shelleyan Orphan, Kim Deal and Tanya Donelly of The Breeders, and Heidi Berry. Covers this time out included two by Big Star's Chris Bell, Rain Parade, Spirit, Syd Barrett, and Rodney Crowell, among others.
Watts-Russell had announced that he would retire the This Mortal Coil name following Blood, and remained true to his word. In 1993, he issued a limited-edition CD box set, 1983-1991, which packaged all three of the group's albums, plus a bonus disc featuring original versions of many of their covers. In 1998 Watts-Russell released another album in a similar vein to his TMC projects, "...smile's OK", under the name The Hope Blister.
- Sixteen Days/Gathering Dust EP (AD 310/1983)
- Kangaroo/It'll end in tears EP (AD 410/1984)
- It'll End in Tears (CAD 411/1984)
- Filigree & Shadow (DAD 609/1986)
- Come here my love/Drugs ltd. 10" (BAD 608/1986)
- Blood (1991)
- 1983-1991 (1993)
- Lonely Is An Eyesore (4AD compilation, 1987 "Acid, Bitter and Sad")