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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rare and subtle
Although the music of the eighties is best remembered for its over-produced bombast, beneath the mainstream was a diversity and creativity that should be envied by purveyors of today's roster. Four A.D. had a reputation for quality and distinction, and its founder Ivo Watts-Russell's project, This Mortal Coil, brought together some of the brightest talents from the label...
Published on 9 July 2006 by Lozarithm

versus
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lack of Cohesiveness?
This CD was bought for me as a present back in the early 1990s by someone who thought it might be `my thing'. I played it a few times, but was not inspired enough to look into the rest of the `group's' oeuvre. Clearing out an overburden CD shelf recently, I played it again to see whether it was worth keeping.

This is certainly a generous CD, with seventy-eight...
Published on 3 May 2012 by Nicholas Casley


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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rare and subtle, 9 July 2006
By 
Lozarithm (Wilts, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Blood (Audio CD)
Although the music of the eighties is best remembered for its over-produced bombast, beneath the mainstream was a diversity and creativity that should be envied by purveyors of today's roster. Four A.D. had a reputation for quality and distinction, and its founder Ivo Watts-Russell's project, This Mortal Coil, brought together some of the brightest talents from the label for their 45-minute debut album in 1984, It'll End In Tears. This collected new versions of a number of hand-picked songs, all beautifully performed and sung, and each linked by some newly-created instrumental passages. It was sufficiently successful for a follow-up, Filigree And Shadow, to be made two years later, promoted to double-album length.

In 1991, after a five year gap, came a second double album, Blood. Although the concept of This Mortal Coil remained the same after It'll End In Tears, the move to the double album format had the effect of extending the original instrumental material that interspersed the songs that were being reinterpreted. In my view, although they serve a valuable purpose in bridging and connecting themes and sounds, as full-length tracks some of them are more valuable as a source of revenue to Ivo, Simon Raymonde and John Fryer than as a necessary part of the artistic integrity of the record, and at worst have a bloating effect that can diminish the total effect of the music. There are also some newly composed songs, however, that are more successful.

The choice of artists drafted in for the project and of the songs chosen to be covered on Blood remains outstanding, and is proof of the taste and discrimination for which the project had earned a reputation, whilst the instrumentation, in particular the gorgeous use of chamber strings, is first class.

Caroline Crawley (from the underrated Shelleyan Orphan, on loan from Rough Trade) sounds sublime on the Apartment's Mr Somewhere, Mary Margaret O'Hara's Help Me Lift You Up, where she is joined by Deirdre Rutkowski, and on a radical reworking of Syd Barrett's Late Night, one of my favourites from the set. Deirdre Rutkowski gets solo dibs on the Gene Clark song With Tomorrow, and Carolyn's Song, originally by Rain Parade, as well as on some of the new material. Four A.D. had some major American names on the payroll, as well as their English and Scottish artists, and Heidi Berry revives 'Til I Gain Control Again, written by Rodney Crowell for Emmylou Harris, while Tanya Donelly and Kim Deal are gloriously combined on the popular Big Star song You And Your Sister, later done to advantage by Whale. Dominic Appleton (from Breathless) covers another Chris Bell song, I Am The Cosmos. Spirit's Nature's Way, from Twelve Dreams Of Dr Sardonicus, is given to Alison Limerick, who had first appeared with them on Lonely Is An Eyesore in 1987, and adds vocal support to other tracks.

I Come And Stand At Every Door is an interesting setting of a twentieth century Turkish anti-war poem written by Nazim Hikmet. The Byrds adapted it from a version by Pete Seeger, who had borrowed for it the tune Great Selchie Of Shule Skerry, and around the same time the Misunderstood recorded another setting of the poem, with the title I Unseen. More recently it was taken up by the Fall, who also did an instrumental version on their album Levitate with the title Jap Kid. This Mortal Coil's rendition is sung by Louise & Deirdre Rutkowski and Tim Freeman, and segues evocatively into the moving piece Bitter, with additional vocals by Ikuko Kozu.

Perhaps slightly too much to take at a single 77 minute sitting (bearing in mind it was designed to be played on two records), and slightly padded, this is nonetheless a rare and subtle pleasure
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Graceful and elegant, 6 Feb 2005
By 
Pieter Uys "Toypom" (Johannesburg) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Blood (Audio CD)
Blood includes the talents of Alison Limerick, Kim Deal, Tanya Donelly and Heidi Berry. Haunting voices drift across oneiric soundscapes in a harmonious blend of their own material and songs by legends like Gene Clark and David Crosby, among others.
Strange things happen as the meandering music carries one eastward to bliss in isles of orchids and westward to wonder in the lands of the blessed. They equal one of their most beautiful interpretations, Tim Buckley's Song To The Siren (from 1986's Filigree And Shadow) on their version of Mary Margaret O'Hara's Help Me Lift You Up, in a quivering, atmospherical treatment.
An uncompromisingly poetic collection where the lyrics and music have been meticulously crafted to paint the most evocative moodscapes in pieces like With Tomorrow, The Lacemaker, the sorrowful I Come And Stand At Every Door and Late Night, a sweet interpretation of the Syd Barrett song. Blood is glorious epitaph to an idea that produced some of the most magical music of the late 80s/early 90s.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Immortal Magic, 12 Oct 2002
By 
Pieter Uys "Toypom" (Johannesburg) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Blood (Audio CD)
Blood includes the talents of Alison Limerick, Kim Deal, Tanya Donelly and Heidi Berry. Haunting voices drift across ethereal soundscapes in a harmonious blend of their own material and songs by legends like Gene Clark and David Crosby, among others. Strange things happen as the meandering music carries one eastward to bliss in isles of orchids and westward to wonder in the isles of the blessed. They equal one of their most beautiful interpretations, Tim Buckley's Song To The Siren (from 1986's Filigree And Shadow) on their version of Mary Margaret O'Hara's Help Me Lift You Up, in a quivering, atmospherical treatment. An uncompromisingly poetic collection where the lyrics and music have been meticulously crafted to paint the most vivid moodscapes in pieces like With Tomorrow, The Lacemaker, the sorrowful I Come And Stand At Every Door and Late Night, a sweet interpretation of the Syd Barrett song. A glorious epitaph to an idea that produced some of the most magical music of the late 80s/early 90s.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dreamy, haunting soundscapes, 6 Feb 2005
By 
Pieter Uys "Toypom" (Johannesburg) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Blood [VINYL] (Vinyl)
Blood includes the talents of Alison Limerick, Kim Deal, Tanya Donelly and Heidi Berry. Haunting voices drift across oneiric soundscapes in a harmonious blend of their own material and songs by legends like Gene Clark and David Crosby, among others.
Strange things happen as the meandering music carries one eastward to bliss in isles of orchids and westward to wonder in the lands of the blessed. They equal one of their most beautiful interpretations, Tim Buckley's Song To The Siren (from 1986's Filigree And Shadow) on their version of Mary Margaret O'Hara's Help Me Lift You Up, in a quivering, atmospherical treatment.
An uncompromisingly poetic collection where the lyrics and music have been meticulously crafted to paint the most evocative moodscapes in pieces like With Tomorrow, The Lacemaker, the sorrowful I Come And Stand At Every Door and Late Night, a sweet interpretation of the Syd Barrett song. Blood is glorious epitaph to an idea that produced some of the most magical music of the late 80s/early 90s.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Intense and captivating, 4 April 2008
By 
N. Anderson (Barnsley, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Blood (Audio CD)
I was captivated by TMC after hearing Liz Fraser singing 'Song to the Siren' on Loose Talk in the 1980s. It'll End in Tears and Filigree and Shadow drew me in further - but Blood was the pinnacle. I listened to it on a Walkman in bivvi bags on mountains, in Aeroflot planes - as well as in my front room. On a mountain in the Western Caucausus, Blood almost became an anthem for a caving expedition living in appalling conditions. I've never found any music so able to take the mind away from cold, fear and tiredness. I listen to so much new music but still have such a place in my heart for TMC and especially Blood.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lack of Cohesiveness?, 3 May 2012
By 
Nicholas Casley (Plymouth, Devon, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Blood (Audio CD)
This CD was bought for me as a present back in the early 1990s by someone who thought it might be `my thing'. I played it a few times, but was not inspired enough to look into the rest of the `group's' oeuvre. Clearing out an overburden CD shelf recently, I played it again to see whether it was worth keeping.

This is certainly a generous CD, with seventy-eight minutes of music for twenty-one tracks. The adjectives I wrote down as I listened to them included `folk-like', and `na´ve' (in a positive sense). There is much use made of a string quartet, and there are a number of instrumentals. Meanwhile, all the female vocalists sing stylised songs with bare or sparse accompaniments. The songs `Nature's Way' and `I Come and Stand at Every Door' have good affective endings.

But often, these are not songs per se, but moods created by repeated riffs of effects. I'm not sure if it all hangs together. The first sense of a beat does not arrive until the fifth track; the first rock guitar is heard on the ninth track, but unfortunately the music sounds awfully hollow combined with the string quartet.

By track thirteen I was starting to feel that the music was a little pretentious and self-indulgent, and that, in truth, there was not much `there'. Perhaps it was designed to be that way. But then I heard track fifteen, `Help Me Lift You Up', which I found quite soothingly mesmerising.

The music overall is `nice and easy' on the ear, rarely challenging. Tracks flow into each other and segments are briefly reprised. Yet some tracks have wildly different edges framing them. Track nineteen, the nine-minute-long `Dreams Are Like Water', seems to embrace four or five songs in one. Is this because we have such short attention spans? Or does this display an acute lack of cohesiveness. Whatever, by then I was becoming quite bored.

And so, the CD was removed from the shelf and consigned to the charity bag.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning. Powerful. Buy it., 21 Mar 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Blood (Audio CD)
My favourite TMC album (though it's a close call). Even after a number of years, there are still tracks on here that send shivers down my spine. Listen to it at a decent volume, and, if you want my advice, with the lights out / candles on - and enter a different world. Superb.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This unique journey is haunting, yet comforting., 17 May 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Blood (Audio CD)
Nine years after first hearing this album, it is still fresh and contemporary. It simply transcends any period of popular music with grace and 4AD style. I can't ever remember not listening to the whole cd from start to finish given the strength and depth of the music, the lyrics and lush vocal performances. I look forward to the experience again and again.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Haunting Patchwork Migraine, 14 April 2009
By 
Mark J. Nicholls "rock_connoisseur" (Edinburgh, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Blood (Audio CD)
While I concur with most of the praise heaped upon this album from the other reviewers, I find "Blood" to be quite a frustrating aural experience.

The album's strongest moments are created by the hauntingly bleak strings of Martin McCarrick et al, which appear in random pockets of the album (most notably on 'The Lacemaker' and in between a large bulk of the songs. And in the songs themselves, of course).

The songs themselves, when pulled from the relentless cut-and-paste smog of the album, are uniformly excellent. The emphasis is on the swishy ethereality of female vocalists such as Caroline Crawley (on the gorgeous 'Mr. Somewhere'), Deirdre Rutkowski (more or less the lead vocalist) and Alison Limerick set against a patchwork of moody midnight ambience (i.e. that 4AD sound).

So individual cuts such as 'With Tomorrow,' 'You & Your Sister' (the prettiest vocal Kim Deal ever recorded) and 'Til I Gain Control Again' (with guest Heidi Berry) are among the cream of the crop - moving nuggets of heart-breaking dream pop in the mould of bands like the Rain Parade, Cocteau Twins etc.

My problem: the album's best bits are sandwiched between meandering instrumentals (mainly from Ivo Watts-Russell, the brains behind this LP) which consist of grating drum machines, eerie overdubbed effects or spooky sounds and vocal manipulation. The album is essentially stitched together as one cloak of doom, with no breaks between songs or breathing space between the intensity of the music.

So the murkiness of the record is smothering. The album is miles beyond 'background music' and so falls flat in terms of cohesion. Short instrumentals such as 'Andialu' or 'Loose Joints' aren't particularly engaging and are ultimately frustrating with repeated listens. The overlong earache of 'Bitter' and filler such as 'D. D. & E.' are also unsatisfying despite the elegance of their arrangements.

The project works best when focusing on the songs/covers, rather than the indulgent patchwork of beautiful sounds. "Blood" is therefore a risky purchase. It cannot be programmed like a proper album (i.e. to filter out the dross), and demands to be played in its entirety. In its entirety, it is intolerable, but the highlights make it a glorious treat. So, a quandary awaits you.

People with the time and commitment to invest in this meanderingly gorgeous album are advised to do so. There are moments of astounding beauty here. Others should download 'You & Your Sister' and move on.
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Diverse and absolutely wonderful, 17 Feb 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Blood (Audio CD)
Im a Hip-Hop/R&B fan myself, but after I heard this round one of my mates house I just had to buy it.. If you want to escape reality put this in your Hi-Fi (Good Hi-Fi recommended) and just be prepared to enter a different world. Extremely powerful and haunting, this Album will not dissapoint - guaranteed..
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