This Mortal Coil might exist as an indulgent footnote in 4AD’s expansive history were it not that – given its artists, and Vaughan Oliver’s grand packaging – indulgence suited the label’s 1980s aesthetic well. With three lengthy albums over eight years, the collective – headed by 4AD founder Ivo Watts-Russell, alongside producer John Fryer – summarised the company’s baroque, almost gothic intent, and, to boot, embraced an enviable line-up of music and musicians. Some were in-house, such as Liz Fraser, Kim Deal and Tanya Donelly; some not, like Shelleyan Orphan’s Caroline Crawley and Breathless’ Dominic Appleton. Similarly, TMC matched material by Watts-Russell and his associates (notably Blood’s D.D. And E.) with fascinating reinterpretations: a ravishing version of Tim Buckley’s Song To The Siren, a prickly take on Talking Heads’ Drugs, a loyal shot at Chris Bell’s I Am The Cosmos… Such choices, as much as the performances, made these collections influential, though they’re less haunting now than they once seemed.
Written by Wyndham Wallace. Released on 4AD.