27 October 2009

Before the Mortal Coil 2

I must be doing something right. At some point over the weekend the clouds broke and revealed new snow down to somewhere around 1500 meters. The entire Mont Blanc massif was shiny and white. More importantly, the Portes du Soleil and Dents du Midi areas received their first significant snow of the season. Not enough to ski but it's a start. Usually the ritual involves bonfires and sacrificial skis but if Ullr is persuaded by music instead then who am I to argue?

This Mortal Coil's second album, Filigree & Shadow, moves the same concept that started with It'll End in Tears a notch or two forward. If It'll End in Tears represented the core sound of 4AD artists--Dead Can Dance, Cocteau Twins, Modern English, etc--then Filigree & Shadow marked the record label's effort to expand the dynamic range of both sound and performers. The album is longer and more sprawling in its scope, with covers still comprising roughly half the total number of tracks. As dreamy as It'll End in Tears but also a bit darker if not more edgy and dissonant.

The covers are all good; four of the originals (Tracks 6, 7, 8, and 16) aren't available on the This Mortal Coil box set CD of originals. Of particular interest is the Colourbox version of "Tarantula," a 12" single B-side from 1983 that shows just how forward thinking those blokes were.

For me, the real treasure is the Gary Ogan and Bill Lamb song, "I Wanna Live." Who these two guys are is anybody's guess. Local Oregon staples is about all I can gather. "I Wanna Live" (written as "I Want to Live" on the Filigree & Shadow album) is stunning and much more powerful than the cover. The song could easily share space with tracks from Big Star's Third/Sister Lovers (see "Kangaroo" and "Holocaust" from the previous post). Harrowing and bleak yet sunny, pretty, and full of youth. The whole album doesn't quite have the emotional impact as Third/Sister Lovers but the one song, the last one on the album, is nothing short of a masterpiece.

1. Velvet Belly

2. Pearls Before Swine: The Jeweler
from: The Use of Ashes, 1970

3. Ivy and Neet

4. Meniscus

5. Tears

6. Colourbox: Tarantula
from: Breakdown #2 EP, 1983

7. Judy Collins: My Father
from: Who Knows Where the Time Goes, 1968

8. Van Morrison: Come Here My Love
from: Veendon Fleece, 1974

9. At First, and Then

10. Gene Clark: Strength Of Strings
from: No Other, 1974

11. Tim Buckley: Morning Glory
from: Goodbye and Hello, 1967

12. Inch-blue

13. Gary Ogan & Bill Lamb: I Wanna Live
from: Portland, 1974

14. Mama K I

15. Filigree & Shadow

16. Quicksilver Messenger Service: Fire Brothers
from: Quicksilver, 1971

17. Thaïs I

18. Tim Buckley: I Must Have Been Blind
from: Blue Afternoon, 1969

19. A Heart of Glass

20. Colin Newman: Alone
from: A-Z, 1980

21. Mama K II

22. The Horizon Bleeds and Sucks Its Thumb

23. Talking Heads: Drugs
from: Fear of Music, 1979

24. Red Rain

25. Thaïs II


Anonymous said...

hello - not sure who i'm sending this to, but wanted to thank you for the kind words about my tune. bill and i made the record together, but "i wanna live" was my song. i wrote it in highschool in my mom's kitchen. when it was done, i remember thinking two things: 1)it was the best thing i'd ever written, and 2)being basically a happy kid, i wondered why i wrote a song about suicide. hhmm ... anyway, i always liked the cover, very dramatic rendering.
happy holidaze - gary ogan

steven hatcher said...

Hi Gary. A very nice surprise-- thanks for the comments. I will paraphrase a good friend of mine who said something like, "Always be on your best behavior when using the internet; you never know who might be reading."

Thanks for reading.