Sun’s Signature - Sun’s Signature Music Album Reviews

Sun’s Signature - Sun’s Signature Music Album Reviews
Working alongside her partner Damon Reece, the Cocteau Twins’ Elizabeth Fraser delivers her most substantial musical statement in a quarter century.

In the quarter century since the Cocteau Twins broke up, Elizabeth Fraser’s career has resembled that of an athlete whose natural talent throws off their decision-making. Fraser’s voice, a heavenly glissando swoop that could charm a butterfly from its chrysalis, is so exquisite that her irregular guest appearances (notably on Massive Attack’s “Teardrop”) and one-off songs have rarely disappointed. But her solo work has lacked focus, with no definitive statement to lift her out of the Cocteau Twins’ lengthy shadow. Sun’s Signature, an eponymous five-track EP from Fraser’s duo with percussionist and romantic partner Damon Reece, is her most substantial undertaking since the Cocteau Twins. It proves worth the wait: a display of rarefied skill scaled to surprisingly human proportions.

The origins of Sun’s Signature lie in the ANOHNI-curated London Meltdown Festival in 2012, where Fraser and Reece debuted embryonic versions of four of the five songs on the EP. (“Underwater,” the trip-hop-adjacent and slightly pat opening track, was originally released in 2000 as a Fraser solo single, although the Sun’s Signature version has been fleshed out with new elements, remixed, and remastered). Over the following decade, the perfectionist duo painstakingly worked up their material, re-editing and refining every element to create a work of incredibly rich—and often unexpected—detail. Reece cites Bernard Herrmann and John Barry’s soundtracks as inspiration for Sun’s Signature’s intricate sound, and there is a widescreen element to the duo’s music, which takes in vibraphone, mellotron, Moog, cimbalom, and more, sounding in places almost like Moon Safari.

Added to this is a healthy and rather unexpected dose of prog rock, with former Genesis member Steve Hackett providing crackling sustained guitar to “Underwater” and standout “Golden Air”; his work sets psychedelic fire to “Golden Air” like John Lennon and George Harrison’s overdriven solos on the Beatles’ “It’s All Too Much.” Hackett also contributes Spanish guitar to the beatific closing track “Make Lovely the Day,” while Reece opts for some interesting percussive choices. “Bluedusk” starts with stately timpani, and a rolling, millipede-like tom-tom line on “Golden Air” adds an unexpected rhythmic twist.

The result—the underwhelming “Underwater” aside—is an atypical and richly baroque musical bed that is, finally, worthy of Fraser’s singular talent. The Scottish singer’s voice is so richly alluring that it can feel like a cheat code for producers, a way of bolting ready-made elegance to any structure, from Oneohtrix Point Never’s collapsing electronics to Sam Lee’s orchestral folk. But Reece’s sparkling productions feel specifically tailored to her voice, which finds its reflection in the swoon of a Moog or the gentle touch of an acoustic guitar, music and voice amplifying each other’s considerable charms.

Fraser is in predictably fine form. Her voice has matured considerably from the slightly jagged tones of her Cocteau Twins debut, when the band sailed close to punk rock and goth; here, she lands on a tone that is higher, fuller, and more recognizably human in register. Her lyrics, often indecipherable at the Cocteau Twins’ peak, are recognizable and even relatable on Sun’s Signature, speaking of love, nature, and the passing of the seasons. To write the lyrics, Fraser made collages of words borrowed from various literary sources, which might explain esoteric phrases like “Sing-ho, Oriole/Tretemolo, Empemblon/Skyliblong” (from “Apples”). But other lines—“Summer is gone/The autumn of my life”; “Daughter, I kiss you/Always hold you”; “See him rise and make lovely the day”—suggest profound and poetic universal truths. This combination of personable voice, discernible lyrics, and grown-up themes suffuses the EP in a warm maturity that Cocteau Twins fans will recognize from the band’s penultimate album, Four-Calendar Café, although Sun’s Signature take a more adventurous approach than Cocteau Twins did on their excellent, if rather meat-and-potatoes, major-label debut.

The crowning glory of Sun’s Signature is the songwriting, a skill that was often eclipsed by Cocteau Twins’ impeccable sonics. The vocal melodies of “Golden Air” and “Apples,” in particular, tumble with acrobatic grace, while the duo’s off-center arrangements explore unpredictable peaks and troughs. When the two combine, as on the rapturous climax of “Golden Air,” the result is ecstatic.

Comparisons to the Cocteau Twins are inevitable. But whereas Fraser’s iconic group brought an otherworldly, almost incomprehensible beauty to much of their music, Sun’s Signature’s charm is surprisingly empathetic. It feels hospitable and lived in, binding earthly emotion with musical grace. That’s not to say the album is humdrum or common: Fraser’s voice remains an extraordinary instrument, while the production is impressively diverse. But this is the mortal magic of a smile as opposed to the astral wonder of the stars: Sun’s Signature is among Fraser’s most illuminating and eloquent music to date, the work of a flesh-and-blood person rather than the chimerical Cocteau Twin of myth.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Sun’s Signature - Sun’s Signature Music Album Reviews Sun’s Signature - Sun’s Signature Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Thursday, August 04, 2022 Rating: 5

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