Boomkat Product Review:
Landing at the start of a new decade, after much had happened in both producer Ivo Watts-Russell’s life and with his 4AD label, the fi nal part of the This Mortal Coil trilogy, Blood (1991), felt like a perfect conclusion. Meticulously orchestrated, vocalists Alison Limerick, Deirdre and Louise Rutkowski return from the second album with Caroline Crawley (Shelleyan Orphan / Babacar) and 4AD signees Heidi Berry, Kim Deal (Pixies / The Breeders), Tanya Donelly (Throwing Muses / The Breeders / Belly) and Pieter Nooten all signed up.
This Mortal Coil's final studio album is a classic; considerably more controlled and condensed than its wonderful predecessor, Filigree & Shadow, it's aged more elegantly, sounding very much a record of the 90s (it was recorded than '91) than of the previous decade. It's perhaps the most obviously feminine TMC record: Ivo Watts-Russell, presiding once more over the general vibe of love smashed on a rock, relies largely on female vocalists - with the veteran Rutkowski sisters joined by Creation chanteuse Heidi Berry, Shelleyan Orphan's Caroline Crawley, Anne Garrigues, The Venomettes' Gini Ball, Alison Limerick, and Kim Deal and Tanya Donelly of then recent 4AD signings Pixies and Throwing Muses respectively.
It's also the most covers-heavy LP that the collective ever cut, with transformative versions of folk-rock and psych classics by Chris Bell, Gene Clark, Syd Barrett, Emmylou Harris, Spirit and The Byrds, as well as treatments of more contemporary songs by The Apartments, Rain Parade, Pieter Nooten and Mary Margaret O'Hara. Supremely gothic original 'The Lacemaker' - a haunting, weightless coming together of chamber strings, Badalamenti-esque synth pads and heavily reverbed, Ophelia-ish vocals warning that "dreams are like water, colourless and dangerous" - sets the sombre tone. It's tracks like this, and the atonal ambient spiritual of 'Andialu', that will probably appeal most to contemporary heads curious as to why, for example, the likes of Tropic of Cancer and Raime have pledged their allegiance to TMC, but it's the songs - those big, grandstanding ballads cat in gossamer-thin, minimalist arrangements - that stay with you longest.
The Heidi Berry-vocalled 'Til I Gain Control Again' is simply heart-stopping, while 'Bitter' anticipates the mournful, dub-infused trip-hop balladry that Massive Attack would make their own over the course of the 90s, and 'D.D. and E.' could easily be mistaken for something made by Julia Holter today. By some way the most subtle, and most refined, of TMC's albums, Blood is also the one to have benefited most from remastering - if you've not heard it before, or just you just need reminding of how good it is, it's your time.