"Disintegration" is long known, and held, by almost everyone as The Cure's absolute apex. Pure, perhaps, and the most focused, successful achievement they made. In 1989, when this record was released, I was a mere slip of 15. And therefore, the first Cure song I was ever conscious of hearing was the alien, weird, "Lullaby" : quite unlike anything else I had ever heard.
I was first drawn to movie soundtracks through a love of the alternate world of the flickering screen : the sounds within these made the other world, the better world. I've always been drawn to the cinematic in music - music with drama, power, and a sweeping vision (lyrically or musically) that expands boundaries : and "Disintegration" is a soundtrack to the most emotionally devasting film never made.
It may only be a record, a collection of sounds, but these songs were gateways to a different world. For me, the album always worked as a mood-enhancer ; a musical E - if you were happy, it enhanced the mood. If you were depressed, down, or feeling the dusk of reality, this record gave me a sense of optimism. Yes, it was and is, a consistently maudlin collection of music. But it was, in a way, a lifesaver. Many a morning and afternoon were spent lost in this record. Sunny afternoons as a teenager were spent on the white bedspread, windows opening, letting a world that wasn't my world pass away.
Now, 21 years after it's release, "Disintegration" is the best record The Cure ever made - and ever will. In fact, it's certainly in the top two or three albums ever made by anyone, anywhere, anytime. From the opening, huge "Plainsong" - lavished in strings from Roger O'Donnell and a delicate, measured percussion from Boris Williams - to the final, repetitive, and exhausted "Untitled", the record is a vast journey through the many different colours of a reality that often falls short of our ideals.
On the lavish three disc set, the album lives and breathes again : the remastering is sympathetic, vibrant, and warm. The music was meant to be played loud - and it works best as an immersive experience. Swimming in music, not drowning.
The second disc, as with all previous Cure reissues, is a selection of home and band demos, alternate mixes and variants, and some undeservedly unreleased material from the time - oddities and curios, including the first ever Robert Smith solo recording - a cover of "Pirate Ships" which was intended for the never recorded Smith solo record. The home demos, largely authored by Robert Smith at home, are glimpses of the way the band worked, building on a skeletal idea from a member, alongside alternate mixes and arrangements, rehearsals and unreleased material : all of these represent every song on the record, and whilst they are clearly works-in-progress, are easily a fascinating, but occasionally testing, glimpse into the bands music making process.
The third disc is sumptious : at this time, The Cure (rightfully) earnt a reputation as one of the finest live acts of all time - and only did so through hard work of intense, long shows delivered with a furious commitment and a mysterious alchemy that meant you were alone even in a crowded football stadium. "Entreat" was the only official record of this tour, and for a long while, was only available at stores in France if you bought two records from the Cure back catalogue, before a limited release a year later. Restored to feature the complete album represented live (Hence the "Plus"), it is a dense, excellent, vibrant presentation of the album made during the band's legendary, and most focused period. At the time it was subject to numerous petitions for it's release - and now, here it is.
Overall, this version of "Disintegration" is the definitive issue. Whilst there is a banquet of material from the period not on this (and available on the "Join The Dots" compilation and the bands website), this release is a comprehensive compendium of The Cure at their creative, and commercial, apex. Not to be missed.