Celebrating his 36th birthday today is Cocteau Twins producer and
multi-instrumentalist Robin Guthrie. As a part of the Cocteau Twins,
Guthrie helped to lay the groundwork for such trip-hop acts as Portishead
and Bjork as well as moody avant-garde artists like Dead Can Dance and This
Coil by experimenting with loops and drum machines under the ethereal
vocals of musical and romantic partner Elizabeth Fraser. Guthrie first met
Fraser in a club in 1979. He and bassist Will Heggie were forming a band
at that time and found Fraser's angelic, stream of consciousness
singing perfect for the type of music they wanted to produce. In 1982, the
trio signed with 4AD and released Garlands, an album that was
filled with a unique blend of stark drum-machines and re-mixed guitar-
feedback under the almost always unintelligible yet beguiling singing of
Fraser. A Peel Session soon followed, as did a U.K. tour with OMD. In
1983, Heggie left the band, and the group recorded Head Over Heels as
a duo. The album was highly improvised and is the first
recording to feature the Twins' signature sound -- Guthrie's lush guitars
under Fraser's mostly wordless vocals.
The group became a trio again when bassist Simon Raymonde joined in 1984.
Later that year, they released Treasure, an album that hit #29 on
the U.K. charts and cemented the band's ethereal sound. A series of
similar sounding, but still stunning, records and EPs followed over the
next four years. In
1989, the group opened its own studio and, a year later, released
Heaven or Las Vegas, an album featuring songs with a
"verse-chorus-verse" structure for the first time in the band's history.
As the '90s rolled around and artists influenced by the Cocteau Twins began
to appear on the charts, the group remained together, continuing to
release albums for a cult audience. In 1996, they released Milk and
Kisses, an album that was a return to form of sorts but led critics to
cry that the group wasn't breaking any new ground.
Other birthdays: David Glasper (Breathe), 33; Nels Cline (the Geraldine
Fibbers), 42; and
Bernard Sumner (Joy Division/New Order), 42.