02 02 2011

This Mortal Coil. Blood.
I don't care, I love this album and always have. And I think she looks beautiful.

When I first heard it, I had no idea who or what This Mortal Coil was (beyond being a quotation from a famous speech about suicide). Other than the fact that it was a guy called Ivo Watts-Russell who was the man behind the 4AD label. Despite my usual slightly autistic compulsion to gather biographia and random facts, I've managed not to learn much more about them than that. I find it's so hard to keep any sense of enigma about things these days, or at least to keep it for very long. Yet an enigma, an air of mystery and ambiguity, can be both satisfying in itself but also keep the focus on what's really important: in this case the music.

As a rationalist, I'm compelled to point out here that I fully accept the human instinct to investigate mysteries, solve puzzles and answer questions. I agree that to the rational mind nothing is inexplicable, only unexplained. The point I'm making is that sometimes an enigma is a very comfortable place to spend time. Like the concept of fuzzy logic, it's a recognition that the simple binary view of reality is sometimes misleading and narrow. I read recently that the problem with numbers is that they're too sharp to describe the real world: like wanting to count diamonds when what you've actually got is mushy peas.

This Mortal Coil's Blood is a work which blends together complete songs, snatches of instrumental music and some abstract pieces. I'm sure if I wanted to I could spend time deconstructing it, analysing how it was made, where the various elements fit together, etc. But I've done that with every Beatles record to the point that it's now almost impossible for me to listen to them. I don't regret it because I learned a lot but the cost was that I can't listen to most modern music without analysing it somehow. That's why classical and non-western forms tend to be what I listen to when I want to drift away: they're still an enigma and I've not translated them into my language. They remain abstract, which is fundamentally what music should be. Blood still has that mystery for me. While in a couple of places it does break its own spell (I Am the Cosmos rather spoils it for me) and is apparently lacking in much in the way of humour, there is a dark beauty to it, sparse at times, ethereal at others.

And how can you not love Kim Deal and Tanya Donelly singing You and Your Sister?

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