You Say It's Your Birthday: Robin Guthrie of the Cocteau Twins

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

Mortal

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.