The Cocteau Twins’ music has repeatedly saved me from going stir crazy during the Covid-19 lockdown here in the UK.
I lost my father to the virus in April and in my grief I felt disconnected and far apart from my close friends, my family and also from my band, Slowdive. I’ve got good friends who I can’t hug or buy a beer for as they are also suffering the loss of a loved one, or simply trying to adjust to the ‘new normal’ restrictions and frustrations imposed on us. Self-isolation during this lonely pandemic is tough and I seek sonic medicine.
The Moon And The Melodies is a wonderfully soothing recording, released in 1986 on 4AD and credited to Harold Budd / Elizabeth Fraser / Robin Guthrie / Simon Raymonde rather than Cocteau Twins. It’s not as powerful an album, in terms of songwriting or production, as Heaven Or Las Vegas, not as yearning or melancholic as Blue Bell Knoll, or perhaps as dazzling as Treasure, but it is extremely beautiful and it makes perfect sense to listen to right now. The fragile melodies and the evocative sleeve – classic 23 Envelope artwork of moonlight on sea grass, swirling branches and blue tones on sand – is a strong combination.
Having legendary composer Harold Budd involved on this record really pushes the Cocteau Twins further into a musical territory I can only describe as ‘ambient’. When I put the vinyl on, the audio instantly becomes a sonic perfume, and I can deeply breathe in the musical environment these songs create, as it’s so spatial. It is occasionally dynamic, too, with the thumping drum machine that pushes them into more familiar guitar band territory, beginning and ending each side. Budd’s repetitive piano motifs dance effortlessly around Liz Fraser’s voice, and guitar ambiences that sound majestic and graceful.
As social distancing restrictions keeps us apart, staying healthy and positive is a daily battle, so it’s never been a better time for The Moon And The Melodies to help relieve the anxious days we all find ourselves experiencing in 2020.
Simon’s new solo album Migrations is released in June 2020 on Touch