Tiny Dynamine - Echoes In A Shallow Bay
Sigurd, on july 29, 2003 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Overall Impression: This CD features the 1985 four-song EP's "Tiny Dynamite" and "Echoes in a Shallow Bay", which shows the Cocteau Twins in a bit of an experimental period between the "surely this is the voice of God" 1984 release TREASURE and the 1998 new-direction album BLUE BELL KNOLL. The production is much more raw and sparser than the songs of that album. Unlike earlier releases, guitarist and producer Robin Guthrie has here made the drum machine just a prominent as the guitar work.
The "Tiny Dynamite" EP begins with the slow "Pink Orange Red". The second track, "Ribbed and Veined" is the second of two instrumentals the Cocteau Twins did in the 1980's (the other being "Rococo" on the "Aikea-Guinea" EP). "Plain Tiger" is the standout of this EP, featuring excellent guitar work and moving vocals. "Sultitan Itan" is the low point of the EP, it doesn't really go anywhere.
The "Echoes in a Shallow Bay" EP shows the Cocteau Twins experimenting. The first track is "Great Spangled Fritillary" One of the most remarkable songs the band has ever released, it begins with Liz Fraser intoning the same few lines again and again as the guitar slowly builds in the background. In the end, her vocals explode in a climactic series of wails. "Melonella" is four minutes of Liz Fraser singing the Latin names of butterflies, "hesperiidae, papilionidae..." A random collection of entomological names becomes a one of the most beautiful of this group's songs. "Pale Clouded White" is a swinging song that stands out due to its use of sequencers, which didn't really feature much in Cocteau Twins songs until 1988's release BLUE BELL KNOLL. The EP closes with the soothing "Eggs and Their Shells".
What might strike the listener first, especially if he or she has heard mostly the softer Twins of VICTORIALAND or the especially smooth HEAVEN OR LAS VEGAS, is how *threatening* Liz sounds in some of these songs, especially "Plain Tiger." Her voice has a ferocity to it that was never found afterward in the Cocteau Twins repertoire.
There are remastered versions of "Pink Orange Red" and "Pale Clouded White" on the Cocteau Twins best-of STARS AND TOPSOIL. I'd certainly recommend getting that, as the sound quality of the remastered versions is incredible. Also, the 1995 "Twinlights" EP included an acoustic version of Pink Orange Red that is interesting in that it shows how the Twins came to interpret the music of this era ten years later.
While some of the Cocteau Twins' finest work is on their EPs (especially 1986's "Love's Easy Tears" EP and 1985's earlier EP "Aikea-Guinea"), it's probably best to start with their albums. I'd recommend HEAVEN OR LAS VEGAS or TREASURE as an introduction to their work if you've never before heard this excellent group. Once you've got the albums, the EPs await, and "Tiny Dynamite/Echoes in a Shallow Bay" should be one of the first you get. // 10