|The Pink Opaque + Tiny Dynamine / Echoes in a Shallow Bay (1985, Remastered 2015)|
Cocteau Twins — The Pink Opaque + Tiny Dynamine / Echoes in a Shallow Bay (1985, Remastered, July 17, 2015)
♣ One of the most distinctive bands of the ‘80s, with a much imitated sound of blissful vocals and swooning, ethereal atmospherics.
♣ Summary: 4AD’s remasters of the legendary Scottish shoegazer/dream pop pioneers’ two 1985 EPs and long out of print 1986 compilation on 180–gram vinyl are each a “treasure” to behold.
By Beth Kellmurray May 27, 2015 12:40 PM
♣ It’s been nearly 20 years since Cocteau Twins broke up, but now 4AD reissue Tiny Dynamine and Echoes in a Shallow Bay EPs, as well as their 1985 compilation, The Pink Opaque.
♣ Tiny Dynamine and Echoes in a Shallow Bay came a few months prior to Cocteau Twins’ fourth full–length, Victorialand, which landed in 1986.
♣ The Pink Opaque compiled the three–piece’s (featuring Elizabeth Fraser, Robin Guthrie and Will Heggie) early works. That disc marked the band’s very first release in the U.S. The reissue boast new mixes of “Pearly–Dewdrops’ Drops” and “Aikea–Guinea” — among others.
♣ Likewise, both albums will feature remastered tracks transferred from the original analog tapes.
Formed: 1979 in Grangemouth, Scotland
Location: Raymonde married Abbey in 2013 in California, has two sons Stan and Will, and divides his time between UK and USA.
Genre: Ethereal wave
Album release: 1985/January 13, 1986/July 17, 2015
Release info: Compilation Studio Recording
Record Label: 4AD
Duration: 39:15 + 16:31 + 16:16 => 72:02
The Pink Opaque
01. The Spangle Maker 4:40
02. Millimillenary 3:40
03. Wax and Wane (Remixed) 3:52
04. Hitherto 3:52
05. Pearly–Dewdrops’ Drops (7″ Version) 4:13
06. From the Flagstones 3:38
07. Aikea–Guinea 3:56
08. Lorelei 3:42
09. Pepper–Tree 3:58
10. Musette and Drums 4:36
01. Pink Orange Red 4:41
02. Ribbed and Veined 3:57
03. Plain Tiger 4:01
04. Sultitan Itan 3:52
Echoes in a Shallow Bay
05. Great Spangled Fritillary 4:03
06. Melonella 4:05
07. Pale Clouded White 5:00
08. Eggs and Their Shells 3:08
♣ Elizabeth Fraser — vocals
♣ Robin Guthrie — guitar
♣ Simon Raymonde — bass guitar
♣ Produced by Cocteau Twins. All tracks written by Cocteau Twins.
Birth name: Elizabeth Davidson Fraser
Born: 29 August 1963, Grangemouth, Scotland
Birth name: Robin Andrew Guthrie
Born: 4 January 1962, Grangemouth, Scotland
♠ Simon Philip Raymonde (born Simon Philip Pomerance, 3 April 1962, London)
♣ Following last year’s represses of Cocteau Twins’ Blue Bell Knoll and Heaven or Las Vegas, this July will see their combined EPs of Tiny Dynamine / Echoes In A Shallow Bay and long out of print, early–80s compilation, The Pink Opaque, officially released on 17th July.
♣ With a history of releasing singles between albums, the two EPs of Tiny Dynamine and Echoes In A Shallow Bay were originally released two weeks apart back in November 1985. Seen as companion pieces, they acted as a precursor to their fourth studio album, Victorialand. 30 years later, they’re now being married together on to one piece of vinyl, completed with reformatted artwork.
♣ A year later The Pink Opaque was compiled to bring together the best of the Cocteau Twins’ early works to become the band’s first official release in the US. Already a cult band on college radio, some classics like ‘Pearly–Dewdrops’ Drops’ and ‘Aikea–Guinea’ were given new mixes for this release, while it’s noted for also featuring ‘Millimillenary’, the first run out for incoming band member Simon Raymonde. To this day, it remains a great entry point to a wonderful band.
♣ Using new masters created from high definition files transferred from the original analogue tapes, both these albums will receive 180g vinyl pressings this July. HD audio downloads of both albums will be made available through specialist retailers at the same time.Review by Ned Raggett.
♣ After having built up a considerable reputation in the U.K. and Europe, the Cocteaus first fully reached America via this compilation, cherry–picking some of the group’s finest moments for this trans–Atlantic co–release between home label 4AD and then–stateside label Relativity. None of the ten tracks had been released in America before, but whoever assembled the release knew exactly what they were doing in terms of whetting appetites. The only absolute rarity on the disc was “Millimillenary,” originally turning up on a compilation tape given away by New Musical Express. It’s a fine number, recorded soon after Raymonde joined the group — a good mix of the Cocteaus’ instrumental lushness and Fraser’s vocal acrobatics. The version of Garlands’ “Wax and Wane” included here is slightly remixed and arguably even better than the original, bringing out everything a little more clearly and powerfully. A sage decision was the inclusion of all three tracks from the Pearly–Dewdrops’ Drops EP; as flawless as that was, all deserved inclusion, while beginning the compilation with “The Spangle Maker” was also inspired. Other cuts include “Hitherto,” “From the Flagstones,” “Lorelei,” and the then–recent single “Aikea–Guinea.” Concluding with the similarly album–ending “Musette and Drums” from Head Over Heels, The Pink Opaque is a lovely taster for anyone wanting to discover the peerless early years of the Cocteaus.
Review by Stewart Mason.
♣ Originally, Tiny Dynamine and Echoes in a Shallow Bay were released as a pair of EPs in similar covers within a few months of each other in 1985; the songs were actually recorded during the same sessions, but the band wished to release them without the hoopla of a full album. This was probably a wise decision, as listening to the two EPs together on one CD, it’s clear that these eight songs are a step down in quality from the inspired heights of Head Over Heels and Treasure. There’s not much difference in sound between songs like “Pink Orange Red” and earlier gems like “Five Ten Fiftyfold,” but there’s a certain ethereal quality lacking in these recordings, a tiredness that suggests the Cocteau Twins had taken their early sound as far as they could go. (Unsurprisingly, their next release, 1986’s Victorialand, was a complete departure.) That said, the Cocteau Twins’ early sound was amazingly cool, and although they’re lacking in invention, the thick atmospherics and swirling vocal melodies of their earlier records are here in spades. As background music, Tiny Dynamine/Echoes in a Shallow Bay works a treat; it’s only when one pays closer attention that the disappointment sets in. ♣ | http://diffuser.fm/Review
Charlie Doherty July 15, 2015
Reviewer’s Rating for “Tiny Dynamite”/“Echoes in a Shallow Bay”: ****
Reviewer’s Rating for “Pink Opaque”: *****
♣ In November of 1985, Scotland’s dream pop pioneers Cocteau Twins released two EPs just weeks apart: Tiny Dynamine, followed by Echoes in a Shallow Bay. The EPs were originally sold as both separate 12” records and as a double LP. The Pink Opaque vinyl compilation, originally released by legendary alternative rock label 4AD (in the U.K.) and Relativity stateside in early 1986, has long been out of print.
♣ That will change this weekend, as 4AD (part of the Beggars Group of record labels) plans to reissue these landmark releases on 180–gram vinyl, remastered from the original analog tapes. Note that the two EPs — four songs each — will now be joined together on one record, just as they are on CD.
♣ It is a trip to revisit this era of the band (which is mainly Robin Guthrie and Elizabeth Fraser), as they were just starting to hit their peak years (1984–1990 in my opinion) when they came out. CT was three albums and several EPs and singles into its career by late 1985, and by the spring of 1986, the acoustic–featured fourth album Victorialand came out to surprise many (in a good way). So here now is a look back at the three releases that preceded it by a few months, all with a fresh look and sound.
“Tiny Dynamine” EP
♣ It may surprise fans that the songs that comprise this EP and Echoes were not initially meant to be released but instead created to test the production capabilities of a studio they wanted to use for the first time. That may indeed explain the experimental nature of some of these tracks, some of which have more rawness in production than other, more sonically engineered tunes.
♣ No matter the approach, the lush melodies coming from Guthrie’s guitars are every bit apparent on all tracks, including the dreamy, hazy leadoff track of Tiny D, “Pink Orange Red.” The trippy, backwards effects on Fraser’s vocals add an extra trippy layer that the group was no doubt going after when they set out to record in their new studio.
♣ “Ribbed and Veined” shows that long before the likes of Wild Nothing came along, the Cocteau Twins were creating dark and ethereal tracks with hazy synths. This one happens to be an instrumental as well, which was something of a rarity for CT at the time.
♣ On “Plain Tiger,” the true standout of the EP, Fraser’s powerful vocals tower over swirling guitars and brooding bass, while “Sultitan Itan” closes the release out on a mixed note, as her vocals get a little too intense for a song that melodically doesn’t go too far. Having said that, Tiny Dynamine is still a brilliant experiment overall.
“Echoes in a Shallow Bay” EP
♣ Opener “Great Spangled Fritillary” plods steadily along, with Guthrie experimenting with fuzzy guitars alongside lighter, chorus effect–aided melodies, while “Pale Clouded White” features gothic elements. CT was never a true “goth” group, but those type of doom–ish and dark soundscapes had definitely been creeping into the CT sound by 1985 (see their 1982 debut Garlands album or 1984 LP Treasure).
♣ The band’s trademark sound, however, was and remains ethereal, dream pop (or “shoegazer” rock if you opt for a louder sound, as My Bloody Valentine would do and take to a whole new level some years later). The band shows on these early ’80s releases that they had already started to master that category before it even existed as a term — and of course, their absolute pinnacle occurred in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s triumphs like Blue Bell Knoll and Heaven or Las Vegas, respectively.
♣ Overall, this EP isn’t quite as strong as Tiny Dynamine, as second song “Melonella” is a bit repetitive, particularly with Fraser’s dramatically beautiful vocals. Such moments are rare, though. Keep in mind that Garlands also had repetition as one of its few flaws, but it came out when Fraser was only 18 years old and just starting to tap into her otherworldy potential.
“The Pink Opaque”
♣ The Pink Opaque compilation was the Cocteau Twins’ first official release in the United States — officially January 13, 1986, though some editions (like my vinyl), may still have 1985 as its printed release year. Nonetheless, it collected the best of their early works (1982–1985).
♣ Sometimes record labels issue “best of” compilations of their artists’ work but in so doing, they put out an underwhelming product unworthy of your hard–earned money. 4AD did not swing and miss here. In fact, the label hit a grand slam with this 10–track release.
♣ Let’s just start with the wise choice of including the 7” inch (1984) version of fan favorite and college radio hit, “Pearly–Dewdrops’ Drops.” The heavenly, chiming guitars glow over the rhythm section’s slow and graceful waltz time signature, while Fraser matches that grace with her enchanting vocal prowess. She continues to show off her soprano range on other popular cuts from this period, including a then–newer mix of “Aikea–Guinea” (where she channels Kate Bush) and “Lorelei.”
♣ “Wax and Wane” originally appeared on Garlands, but on Pink Opaque, it comes in remixed form, and that was a good decision by the band. The production is richer — louder kicks from the drum machine and deeper bass — and the overall sound on this new, remastered edition is noticeably more sinister and Siouxsie Sioux–sounding. It makes the original sound too thin in comparison. The psychedelic pop tune “Millimillenary,” a true rarity first appearing on an NME compilation, is also noted for being the debut of bassist Simon Raymonde. He took over for Will Heggie, who was a force behind the 4–stringer in his own right on early CT recordings.
♣ Both LPs hit stores on Friday, July 17 and are essential for any Cocteau Twins fan. If you can only invest in one release, I recommend The Pink Opaque, as it perfectly showcases how both of the time and ahead of the game the Cocteau Twins were as visionaries in alternative rock. ♣ http://blogcritics.org/
♣ When they first emerged in the early 80s, the Cocteau Twins were compared most often to Siouxsie & The Banshees, but in truth they never sounded like anyone — or anything — else. Taken together, their nine albums, and sixteen EPs/singles, sound less like a band and more like an element of nature.
♣ Which was very 4AD. Ivo Watts–Russell has always claimed that his aim was to unearth music that was timeless, free of any trend, movement or era and even in their earliest incarnation, the Cocteau Twins were true to that remit, firmly charting their own course. The band’s name was plucked from an old Simple Minds track, but the foundations were laid some time before, when old school friends Robin and Will saw Liz dancing in a disco. In a stroke of precognitive genius, the boys decided that if Liz could dance that well, then she should be able to sing that well, too.
♣ Some time later, Robin’s chance meeting with early 4AD signings The Birthday Party resulted in a tape being sent to Ivo, who was thrilled by what he heard, and encouraged them to record more. Plans for a debut single were shelved, and the stark, mercurial Garlands appeared instead. Describing it as “haunting”, “spellbound”, “diaphanous”, and discerning a “frosting of sweetness”, the critics wore out their adjective; this was rock music — just — but it was conjured in the unlikeliest environment from the strangest of material. They stayed a trio, with a drum machine on board, so preserving their tightly knit, private world. In fact, that world was diminished rather than expanded when, after two EPs and a European tour, Will Heggie left, leaving Robin and Liz, by then a couple, to carry on as a duo. The pair recorded the Head Over Heels album and the Sunburst And Snowblind EP in 1983. On these recordings, Liz could be heard forming her own language — recognisable words emerging and submerging in a maelstrom of her own, coated and drowned in Robin’s swelling guitar. Bass player Simon Raymonde, formerly of The Drowning Craze, joined the band at the end of 1983.♣ A trio again, the band recorded The Spangle Maker EP, which included the majestic ‘Pearly–Dewdrops’ Drops’, their first Top 30 hit. With Simon on board, the band developed bottom end, deeper eddies and currents, but an increased lightness of touch, too. They were evolving with each release, with Liz especially pushing herself further and further. Back in the studio, 1984’s Treasure brought more layers of ornateness, opaqueness and stateliness to the band’s sound. This time, Liz’s songtitles were names: not just ‘Lorelei’ and 'Pandora’, but 'Ivo’, 'Persephone’ and ‘Aloysius’ too. Liz, in her naivety, never considered that people might put those titles and the album cover (all lace and shadows) together, and came up with the ‘fey Victoriana’ tag that the trio came to hate. Despite this sort of misinterpretation, the music continued along its own resolute path, through three EPs in 1985: Aikea–Guinea, Tiny Dynamine and Echoes In A Shallow Bay. Each one signalled a move towards an increasingly abstract ‘floating’ sound — a move that culminated in Robin and Liz (minus Simon) recording the largely acoustic, non–percussive Victorialand.
♣ The Cocteaus re–emerged 12 months later with Blue Bell Knoll, which was warmer and lusher than ever, but more concentrated and concise too. This progression was even more marked with 1990’s Heaven Or Las Vegas: an audible release of tension and a surge of unfettered love that is many people’s favourite Cocteaus album. Heaven Or Las Vegas was also the last record the Cocteau Twins made for 4AD. They’d been part of the family for years, helping to define what the press used to call the "4AD sound", and it’s almost always the way that family members must at some point leave the nest. The die was cast, and they departed for Fontana, releasing two more albums (Four Calendar Café, and Milk And Kisses) before disbanding in 1996. Four years later, the 4AD retrospective Stars And Topsoil served as a reminder of the trio’s uniquely bewitching music.♣♦*♣♦*♣♦*♣♦*♣♦*♣♦*♣♦*♣♦*♣♦*♣♦*♣♦*♣♦*♣♦*♣♦*♣♦*♣♦*♣♦*♣♦*♣♦*♣♦*♣♦*♣
|The Pink Opaque + Tiny Dynamine / Echoes in a Shallow Bay (1985, Remastered 2015)|