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4.7 out of 5 stars
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4.7 out of 5 stars
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I cannot rate this album higher, nobody has done a soundscape that compares... For me there has never been a singer that tops Liz Fraser for pure out-of-this-worldiness when it comes to alien-speak. The voice of an angel? Do me a favour and don't seek any words, there aren't any, but that's the beauty... No message. Listening to Oomingmak, I am reminded of driving across Ireland to my homeland of Co Mayo, it makes me picture a Mintsrel's Gallery in a huge vaulted cathedral.. Hearing The Thiner The Air and I wonder if there was ever an operatic singer to better Miss Fraser, for someone who claims to have never had any formal training, it's an inspiration to us all. Everyone should hear this album, it is glorious in every sense of the word. This album has stayed with me since it's release, and will forever and ever amen. I want to buy a copy for everyone I know, just so they can experience what I have known.. How's that for a recommendation?
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on 21 August 2005
Victorialand is very much a product of CTs etherial phase. Gentle guitar figures, few if any drums, and Frazer's angelic tones. Maybe not the obvious choice to introduce yourself to the band (you would be better off with "Heaven or Las Vegas", "Blue Bell Knoll" or even "Treasure" for that matter).
Here we find them at their dreamiest it is the perfect companion to the twinned EPs "Tiny Dynamine" and "Echoes in a Shallow Bay". This is from that period when the group was reduced to a duo of Frazer and Guthrie. It has a sparser sound than we are used to, and maybe takes a few more plays to really 'get'.
Victorialand is not, really, a full scale album. It is a mini album weighing in at just under 33 minutes. The original vynil version played at 45rpm. But those 33 minutes contain some of the best music for daydreaming ever written. The purity of sound makes it ideal for CD...
Buy it and prepare to lose yourself in reverie....
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on 12 December 2002
In my opinion by far and away the best of the Cocteau Twin's albums. I prefer 'Otherness' and 'The Moon and the Melodies' but the former is only an e.p and the latter a collaboration listed as the work of Elizabeth Fraser, Robin Guthrie, Simon Raymonde and Harold Budd, not the Cocteau's.
From the first guitar note the music pulls you into a gorgeous aural bath. A gently strummed guitar drifts so elegantly from your speakers that it instantly slows you down to the album's unique pace and drags you deep into the soundscape that is slowly unfolding before you. After a minute a saxophone enters the fray with meditative phrases that just about manage to avoid evoking new age nightmares, before Guthrie's unmistakable chiming guitar makes a subdued entry. The music is so embracing you barely notice that nearly three minutes have elapsed before Fraser's incredible voice takes hold of proceedings and the song hits full stride.
Once you've been pulled in their is no escape. I cannot remember a time when I have consciously chosen to stop the album or just play the first track. The music drifts by at its own pace and it forces you to follow suit. Given how minimal the album is - being focused almost exclusively on Guthrie's guitar and Frasers's vocals, with only the occasional splash of percussion, sax or piano - it is remarkable how engaging a listening experience Victorialand actually is. It's just so warm and comforting it's as hard to leave as a warm bed on a cold early morning.
The album works beautifuly. It takes you to a special place and has a lovely fluidity about it. When the particularly gorgeous final song 'The Thinner the Air' suddenly closes in on itself you feel sad to be leaving the place the music has taken you, like you did as a kid when you had to leave the place you had just fallen in love with on some family holiday.
Victorialand is a wonderful album that strips down the Cocteau's sound to reveal a pure beauty unmatched on any of their other releases. Furthermore, if a better hangover cure exists I'm certainly not aware of it.
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#1 HALL OF FAMEon 28 March 2003
The title should give it all away- Victorialand a region in Antartica, something that you should never be able to put into words but there are a million words for- not all of them in a language simply understood. Victorialand is an initially difficult listen- certainly not as ecstatically instant as Treasure of Blue Bell Knoll. But persistence and late nite listens should change all that...
Following a period where Cocteau Twins began to sound like themselves (rather than an Associates/Banshees sounding band) where they produced such great releases as Pearly Dewdrops Drops, Treasure, Aikea Guinea & Love's Easy Tears, they decided to change their sound (though the acoustic elements of songs like Orange-Appled gave a clue). Stripped back to the original duo of Elizabeth Fraser & Robin Guthrie (Simon Raymonde was doing extensive work on the epic double album 'Filigree&Shadow' by This Mortal Coil), Victorialand is without the by now trademark drum machine sound & chiming infinite bells (most ably demonstrated on Gun Club's 'Breaking Hands', produced by Guthrie the same year as this). The duo are joined by Dif Juz's Richard Thomas- which alters their sound- the opening 'Lazy Calm' has almost a jazz-feel, prior to Fraser's heavenly vocals coming in: extremely distinctive & divine...
Victorialand is one of the most ambient of Cocteau Twins' releases, alongside the follow-up 'The Moon & the Melodies' (released under the 'Budd-Fraser-Guthrie-Raymonde'-moniker)- it is blissedout more than chilled out, the latter term much more a lazy marketing tool for slightly mellow lift muzak.
The songs?- well, the usual style of titles, almost vague- but not far from the language used in Joyce's 'Finnegans Wake': Feet-Like Fins, Oomingmak & How to Bring a Blush to the Snow (not quite up to the peak of their titles, such as Ella Megalast Burls Forever or The Itchy-Glowbo Blow). Throughout the Dark Months of April and May is another highlight, fitting into that perfect soundscape evident on other such 80s releases as 'Ambient 4: On Land','Sulk', 'Burning Blue Soul', 'A/Z' ,'Spirit of Eden' & parts of AR Kane's 'I'.
Victorialand may lack the epic alien pop sound of albums like Treasure, Blue Bell Knoll & Heaven or Las Vegas, but it certainly remains a joy- which once penetrated is not easily shaken off. The remastering brings out this, probably the most subtle of Cocteau Twins releases & the cover by 23 Envelope is amazing (really, they ought to release these for the public to buy- I love the idea of someone having a Cocteau Twins cover for their room, but not necessarily knowing who they were!). Anyone who enjoys recent music by Sigur Ros, Low, Francoiz Breut, Yu-Ra, Violet Indiana- many of the latter found on Simon Raymonde's Bella-Union label (see 'At Least You Can Die with a Smile on Your Face) should adore this reissue. Words just aren't enough...
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on 19 March 2004
A great album of soothing, totally individual music. The stand-out is Lazy Calm though, which, at some 6 minutes long, is uttely divine from end to end. Worth every penny of the CD price just for that alone - but there are other beauties on here too (Little Spacey is great for example).
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on 3 September 2013
I have to admit my embarrassment... Having just acquired this on vinyl, and not having heard it before, although being a big Cocteau fan - and owning the rest on vinyl already... I have just listened to side one thinking "my, Liz's voice is a bit deep on this track, and this, and this one too......" Stupidly I did not notice the little 45 on the label. Yes it is a 45rpm album. And I listened to the whole side on 33 rpm.
What I can say is, it sounds a million times better on 45! Very good album, up there with my personal favourite of Treasure - you can't go wrong here, if you already have a soft spot for the twins output. Well recommended.... On the right speed of course.
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VINE VOICEon 21 March 2009
Speaking as someone who would have crawled across broken glass using my tongue as a propeller just to hear a new Cocteau Twins album I was a bit disappointed when I first heard Victorialand. It lacks the epic peaks and troughs of their previous album, the magnificent Treasure and indeed the three E.P,s released between Treasure and this album Aikea-Guinea,Tiny Dynamine / Echoes in a Shallow Bay. With bassist Simon Raymonde off recording on This Mortal Coil's Filigree & Shadow and the faithful old drum machine sat in the corner gathering dust Victorialand is a lighter airier album than previous efforts. It lacks the incandescent glories of their best work but once you get used to the fact that you are listening to a calmer( lazy calmer?) and more reflective work than the giddy extraterrestrial pop of old you realise this is an extraordinarily beautiful album .
The lack of percussion and the sculptural booming bass lines means there is far more space and tracts of spatial calm Richard Thomas of Dif Juz fills in some of this with his woozy saxophone and Tablas but mostly it's the glistening guitar refrains of Robin Guthrie and of course the extraordinary voice of Elizabeth Fraser that give Victorialand it's exceptional ambience.
First track "Lazy Calm " glides the emollient saxophone over exquisitely plucked guitar notes and the serene vocals that twitter for the chorus of sorts. "Fluffy Tufts" may be a song title so twee it would make a children's TV presenter blanch but it is a truly gorgeous track with the multi-tracked vocals pirouetting over cascading notes that briefly recall the effulgent rhapsodies of Treasure. Even a more austere track like "Whales Tails " is truly dazzling, though in more precise structured manner..at least till Fraser's vocals gambol away briefly ."Oomingmak" brazenly highlights Fraser's amazing vocal range to wondrous effect and even if "Little Spacey " is a little too waltz like the faultless exhortations of "Feet Like Fins" and the shimmering fateful tones of "The Thinner The Air " means the album is book-ended by a musical virtuosity so very rare for it's stop you in your tracks beauty.
The album title refers to the part of Antarctica known as Victoria Land ,named after Queen Victoria (and forming the British claim to the continent, currently dormant under international treaty). Several song titles seem to have polar themes which gives it added interest for me, an avid student of polar exploration.."How to Bring a Blush to the Snow" is pretty obvious. "Feet-Like Fins", is in all probability about penguins. "Throughout the Dark Months of April and May", could be about the beginning of the South Polar winter, the obvious "Whales Tails" about errr the tails of whales and "Oomingmak" is an Inuit name for the Musk Ox. "The Thinner the Air" could allude to the fact that much of the continent is more than 3 kilometres above sea level and at this altitude air becomes noticeably thinner.
An intoxicating drift into ambient territory Victorialand was followed by The Harold Budd collaboration The Moon And The Melodies. Which further confirmed this coast towards the outer extremes of mood music .I love ambient music ,despite my cursory initial reservations I was always going to love this album. Rather than ravel the listener in an exhilarating miasma of thrumming pop/rock textures Victorialand lowers them into a idyllic ocean of lapping eddies. With the Cocteau's the results are invariably the same.. ..bliss unconfined.
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on 31 May 2010
This is a wonderful little album that showcases the sound of a truly unique band indulging their weird side for all that it's worth. The soundscapes are much sparser than on previous (and later) outings with little or no percussion on most of the tracks, but that just adds to the effect. The guitars sparkle, swoon and swirl with magic and Liz Frazer's achingly lovely vocals float on top of them like rays of light from a new-born star. Galaxies glow, undulate, fade to black and explode into life again. This is trippy stuff even by the standards of this trippiest of bands, and it sounds like nothing else in the world. Describing how the Cocteaus sound is like trying to explain the taste of ice cream to someone who's never eaten it; it's nigh-on impossible, and all the usual words like 'heavenly' and 'ethereal' that get thrown around so often with reference to them just don't do the sound justice. If you've never heard the band before then this probably isn't the best place to start (try 'Four Calendar Cafe' for something slightly more 'conventional' or 'Treasure' if you want to get a feel for the early stuff) but if you've already got those albums then you really should think about buying this one as well. Blissful stuff.
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on 21 April 2010
I remember buying this album in June/July 1986 on vinyl and I still have it. This is absolutely superb, in fact I'm going to give it ten stars. The Cocteaus are brilliant as usual and Liz in fine form and Robin on guitar. Every song is perfect and I like every song on the album it is so unusual. I bought at the same time This Mortal Coil which unfortunately I sold years but I'm going to buy it again from Amazon. I was a big fan of the Cocteaus since the mid Eighties when I saw them on the Old Grey Whistle Test remember that singing Pearly Dew Drops Drops. After the outstandingly brilliant Treasure which sounded so different and nothing like anything else and then the same with Victorialand. I couldn't recommend it high enough.
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on 25 June 2008
Other reviewers have tried to describe this album, and I can only say "buy it" to anyone who appreciates beautiful things...
All I really wanted to say is for fans of the twins who bought this over 20 years ago(old, aren't we?)...the production of some of the original albums was lacking, especially this one and treasure.
The remaster presents this piece in a new light. If you are listening on decent equipment this really has more separation and vibrancy to the guitars, sax, effects etc and Liz's voice has less of a veil in front of it...it's almost like hearing it for the first time again.
Guthrie's remaster is a gift to the fans but you will be hard pressed to find the tiny credit of this on the case...typically modest.

Achingly beautiful....
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