Damien Love talks nomenclature with the third Cocteau Twin. Simon Raymonde wriggles and shrugs off classification with a long-practised 02188. ‘We‘ve had every label under the sun since we started. We've had the New Age thing; we've been post-punk: we‘ve been Goth; we‘ve been . . . God knows what. And we're none of those things. Somewhere along the line. we‘re an alternative to all the other stuff that's going on. We didn't set out to be one. But we are.‘
After fourteen years cast adrift on the oceans of sound. it‘s increasingly difficult to say exactly what the (‘octeau Twins are. As their peculiar little life-raft bobs into view on the horizon every so often. to the casual eye. little ever appears changed from last sighting. For the more observant. however. the differences are obvious. The scars the vessel bears are becoming deeper. The difference between frenzied cabin fever and an on-deck patty. between leisurely rowing and frantic bailing-out. Among the storms and squalls the band have survived of late have been their departure from the 4M) label with which they had a symbiotic eight-year relationship; Robin Guthrie's night of cocaine hell. and the dissolution of his and longtertn partner Liz Fraser’s romantic attatchment. Yet. with the plain-sailing arrival of the Cocteau's latest album. Milk Am! Kisses. all seems calm.
‘lt was quite different. really.‘ says third Twin Simon Raymonde when comparing the records creation to that of it's predecessor. Four Calendar (ii/(i. ‘1 mean. we were all in the studio together. which was quite a novelty. The last couple of records. what with various drug and relationship traumas. it was very rare that we were all in the satne room at the same time -- or wanted to be. to be
honest. l'our (‘ulendur (ti/k” was the pinnacle of that period. where Robin was just a mess and doing the night shifts. l‘d be in during the day and Liz would . . . well. just sort of come in every now and then. when she could. it was a chaotic period. I guess because of all these problems we. weren't able to enjoy what we were doing. or communicate at all. Since that's all greatly improved. our working and personal relationships are better than they‘ve ever been.‘
A new Cocteau Twins album. then. But where‘s the fun in that'.’ As anyone with a pair of cars will tell you. once you’ve heard one. you’ve heard them all; or so the popular dullard complaint. applied to anyone who has ever created a sound uniquer unlike any other. would have it.
‘1 just have to let that wash over me.‘ says Raymonde. There is quite a development over the years -— though i admit we‘re slow to change. It's a lazy thing to say. We do have a style and we do have limitations. but. i mean. the Velvet Underground had a style. their sound didn't change radically from one album to the next. I think all great groups. groups
; tricking ideas from every period of music that came
1 along. we'd never really has e an identity of our own. The sound we have don‘t want to hear our music in a different way. and 3 if that means people only have to buy one album.
The Cocteau triplets contemplating conflict that have lasted. have a specific style. If we started we like. it's a nice sound. We
then so be it'
After the gruelling world tour of “NJ. the (‘octeaus plan for their forthcoming shows to be more intimate. one-offevents. ‘Special‘ seems to be the key word. and Ray tnonde seems genuinely excited by the prospect of playing. ‘Basically. we've been to hell and back. and the fact that we still all really like each other says a lot. The music is something we can‘t really do without. \Vc cottld've easily walked away at any point and said “fuck this. it isn‘t worth it." But it is worth it. 'l here's something special w hen the three of us get tt‘igether. a feeling you can't get on your own. And that‘s not sotiiething you reallv want to chuck away.‘ -
'liltr' ('m'lt (Ill 'lit m‘ /’/u,\ Hie Arr/u r. (/lrtst'rnr m1 .l/(ul 1’).
[amm— String swing
Jazz is the driving force behind the final programme in the Hebrides Ensemble’s 95/96 season. Beside music by jazz-inspired composers such as Stravinsky and Martinu, it features the world premiere of the specially commissioned Sextet by Dick Lee. He may want to be known as 3 Coventry City supporter, but it is as a composer and performer that his name is recognised, particularly through his ongoing role in the jazz band Swing ’96, which he has been a leading
as Swing ’80.
Dick Lee: bassoon hops
member of since its first appearance
‘Hebrides asked specifically if I could do a jazz-inspired piece,’ explains Lee, ‘and it’s written for the same combination as the Martinu on the programme, la Revue de Cuisine, which is clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, violin, cello and piano.’ Lasting fifteen-twenty minutes, Sextet is in three movements, the first being a theme and variations in swing timing. ‘That means uneven quavers, which is quite challenging for classical musicians and right now I don’t know how they’re getting on with it.’ Knowing the incredibly professional attitude with which the Hebrides approach all their performances, the
answer is likely to hold no tears.
‘Everyone,’ says Lee, ‘gets a chance to strut their stuff. It’s all quite accessible, the last movement especially really tries to lift the spirits and let rip. l’d probably have to say it’s a classical piece with jazz influences and that’s a description which fits all the pieces on the programme. I couldn’t call it a jazz piece, but it’s certainly iauy’.
And for those who want to hear what Lee calls ‘undiluted iazz’, Swing ’96 will be playing a half-hour set in the bar after the concert. (Carol Main) The Hebrides Ensemble play Stevenson Hall, RSAMD, Glasgow on Sun 5; Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh on Mon 6 May.
The List 3- lb May I‘Nb 43 I