Librarians like me stubbornly file this under Cocteau Twins, when it was actuallly released (somewhat clumsily) under the name of Harold Budd and the three individual Cocteaus. Although I came to it via the Cocteaus it's a pleasing addition to either their or Budd's catalogues. This short set alternates between the familiar style the Cocteau Twins were doing in the mid 80's, and some instrumental numbers based around Harold Budd's ambient piano.
The Cocteaus songs are pretty enough, and valuable for completists, but to be honest they're not on their best form. It's more like they are on auto-pilot, with Robin and Simon's plonking chords or arpeggios, the usual floaty vocal wibble from Liz, and the tinny 80's drum machine. Harold Budd also adds a bit of piano decoration here and there. After "Sea, Swallow Me", there are few memorable tunes. I'd recommend their "Victorialand" album instead for something better in this style.
For the more general arty music fan, this album is well worth getting for the instrumental pieces. Robin and Simon create a dark foil of fuzzy guitar ambience, on top of which Harold Budd layers his heavily effected piano improvisations. It's got a distinctively spacious "underwater" sound. Though probably not like an actual piano played under water, and I don't mean it's only good for documentaries about whales. Interesting enough to listen to, and smoothed-out enough for relaxation.
March 17, 2004