INSTANT REPLAY: overlooked moments in music history — by Ryan Kailath
The Cocteau Twins
4AD Records | 1984
Fans have said that after they first heard The Cocteau Twins, other music sounded pale and pointless in comparison, like shadows on the wall of Plato‚Äôs cave. Plato‚Äôs allegory was concerned with waking from life‚Äôs slumber to find reality. This Scottish trio, comprised of Elizabeth Fraser, Robin Guthrie and Simon Raymonde, has always been content to live in dreams. Their ethereal melodies set them apart from any artists then or now. It‚Äôs not that they have no competitors, but that they have no comparison. Their sound is truly unique.
The Cocteaux were signed early on to 4AD. Label founder Ivo Watts-Russell said that his aim was to unearth music that was timeless, free of any trend, movement or era. He lived up to this claim by housing some of the most avant-garde artists of the last 25 years, including Bauhaus, The Pixies and Mojave 3. After a handful of EPs and full-lengths, heavily promoted by the late BBC mogul John Peel, the Twins changed bassists and recorded 1984‚Äôs Treasure. The addition of Raymonde marked a departure from their heavier bass-driven sound, and Treasure was instantly recognized as a radical new chapter in the band‚Äôs unfolding story.
The gossamer textures of delayed guitars and drum-machine are now apparent as obvious precursors of the dream-pop sound that was to come out of the UK years later with bands like Slowdive and Galaxie 500. Rather than playing at the listener, the music invites you to come inside and explore its stream of conscious. The Cocteau Twins are to music what David Lynch is to film: never a consistent critic‚Äôs favorite, but always inventive and instantly recognizable spinners of surrealist dreams.