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After the successful "It'll End In Tears", Ivo Watts-Russell and his 4AD friends made this follow-up, a long, sprawling collage of little atmospheric instrumentals and idiosyncratic covers of obscure songs. It's very suited to its lush album cover of gothically shaded female faces against blurred curtains of velvet. The instrumental sound, full of cathedral-sized reverb, often has the gothic ambience of the Cocteau Twins but without Elizabeth Fraser's vocals. No coincidence, as a couple of these instrumentals were written by Cocteaus' bassist Simon Raymonde. Another distinctive sound of this album is the rich harmonies of Deirdre and Louise Rutkowski, again drowned in reverb. Most memorably they perform "Morning Glory", one of Tim Buckley's best songs.
Other featured vocalists include Dominic Appleton, who sings "Tarantula" and "The Strength of Strings" with feeling in his distinctive sneering and slightly lisped voice. Alison Limerick performs the Judy Collins song "My Father" with theatrical soul, and Talking Heads' breathless funk "Drugs". Their echoey ambience takes a more sinister turn on the Van Morrison song "Come Here My Love" and "Firebrothers", sung by "Jean" and "Richenel" respectively with creepy arrangements.
It's not as tidy and concise as "It'll End in Tears", and lacks the shinier production of "Blood". There's also better individual songs to be found on both these other albums, but this floaty, atmospheric music is just the thing for a long, late introspective night.
April 28, 2004