A while back, I reviewed some reissues of albums by The Cocteau Twins (click on the titles following to jump to those reviews). Heaven or Las Vegas and Blue Bell Knoll both have one thing in common beyond the band recording them: the reissues were apparently “remastered from HD Audio” (according to hype stickers on the album covers). They sounded quite good, certainly better than the CDs.
When I received two new Cocteau Twins remastered vinyl LPs for review consideration, I was intrigued as the hype stickers on the albums read: “remastered from original analogue tapes” and “24-bit HD.”
What that means exactly we probably won’t know for now (I asked the label, but information was ultimately not available). Nonetheless, both Garlands and Victorialand sound quite wonderful and remarkably warm on these new vinyl reissues. They sound significantly bigger and rounder than my original UK CD editions. And they probably sound warmer than those later albums made from so called ‘HD Audio” (haven’t had time to compare them all yet).
Garlands is the birth of the Cocteau Twins’ sound and with it comes original bassist Will Heggie, so the album is both ambient and rich. Elizabeth Fraser‘s always haunting vocals float above the rigid drum machine and tornado of guitar textures crafted by Robin Guthrie.
Its kind of funny talking about an album that has an early 80s — likely 8-bit — drum machine aesthetic at its core in audiophile terms. But, the reality is the vinyl sounds much more organic than the CD or digital streams I’ve listened to. Guessing, I suspect part of the richness I am hearing is the resonance of whatever amplifier they may have been running the drum machine through — yes, amp tone being pushed from a drum machine. But there is also the throb of the bass and Robin Guthrie’s hypnotic guitars so it works really nicely in all its ambient trippy bliss. This is quite apparent on tracks like “Wax and Wane” and “Shallow Then Halo.”
Victorialand, which came several albums later, was something of a side step in that it is just a duo album with Guthrie and Fraser. It is also one of their most moody-beautiful albumss featuring largely ethereal treated acoustic guitar and angelic vocals.
But of course the music is often layered in the studio so the sound is quite rich and lush (“Little Spacey,” “Fluffy Tufts,” “The Thinner The Air” etc.).
One thing that gets me excited about these remasters is whether a restored version of my favorite Cocteau Twins album, Treasure, might be in the works. That would be tremendously exciting and I would hope they take the time to remix that into surround sound.
Hey, while I’m reviewing such dreamy music, I guess I have the right to dream!