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Cocteau Twins – Aikea Guinea (1985)

The sweet trill of Elizabeth Fraser’s otherworldly voice passed me by as a child growing up in the Eighties and again as a teenager in the Nineties. How could I have failed to notice it? Maybe it was because for all of the critical hosannas heaped on the Cocteau Twins, their singular, trend defying sound never crossed over into the mainstream. They were signed to 4AD, a defiantly independent UK label that was home to other alternative artists such as The Pixies and Red House Painters.

It wasn’t until I started working in a record shop that I became aware or even cared about any music outside of the singles and albums charts or started to sample music that could not be easily labelled or categorised for mass consumption. Although I do vaguely recall something about Prince being a huge fan of theirs and wanting to sign them to his Paisley Park label. Which would have been something. Anyway, turns out they didn’t need Prince and their mysterious beauty remained and remains to this day.

Several years ago, I finally decided to give their music a listen and purchased a compilation entitled Stars & Topsoil after reading a cursory review hidden away, aptly enough in the re-issues/compilations section of Q magazine and I fell in love with this song. I recorded it onto a compilation tape and it soon became the perfect track for late night, especially when driving- The trance like bass, the swirling dreamy, endlessly echoing layers of sound, Fraser’s ecstatic, enigmatic phrasing; it creates a sense of the infinite, of floating through a vast space, at once weightless and heavy, filled with secrets, triumphs, tears. The sound of our own insignificance.

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