The Church Of Me
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Kissing in the churchyard, I know a righteous woman

Thursday, January 25, 2007
A BIRTHDAY EPIPHANY – TREASURE BY THE COCTEAU TWINS: REHEARD

She mentioned something about it to me, so I had to listen to it again. It’s not a record which I revisit regularly, but something above and beyond that; Treasure I regard as something of a sacred text, and like Escalator Over The Hill or Closer I only feel the need to hear it perhaps once a year, or once every two years, just to remind myself of what truly matters in art, what justifies all the flip-flopping through the everyday flotsam of wanton productivity. Its language and structure resembled nothing else in that false warmth of 1984 pop. In retrospect it is easy to discern that if only the Associates had gone higher, or if Siouxsie had pursued that dreamhouse kiss to the illogical other side of its mirror, or if Kate Bush thought herself worthy of being God…but then that latter would turn out to be one of 1985’s most resonant stories. However, Liz Frazer’s voice was as radical yet content in its own invented language as Coltrane’s.

Treasure may be the darkened anteroom to the glorious sunlight of Blue Bell Knoll four years later, but its hooded crevices and its songs named after Victorian christenings (Burne-Jones, yes, but they came from Grangemouth and recorded in Edinburgh, so we mustn’t forget Leslie Hunter and that long-neglected substratum of Scottish Impressionism) are not of that world but speak of a better one. You simply have to recall all of your patience and wait for that sun to ascend with its far-from-sad smile.

Its beauty is untarnished by the generation which has passed since its creation. The beauty is true because its louder showers know of their own mortality yet refuse to give up on spiritual immortality. How important it was to our former life could only be delineated with gross inadequacy, even in this Church – as with Frazer’s world, Treasure literally goes just beyond where words are able. It is nearly needless for me to say that I have not dared to listen to it these last five years.

Until last night, when she told me to look out for something. And there were hints of it – does she emerge out of one of those uncanny yodels of “Persephone”? They don’t need to talk to me about hauntology – listen to the instrumental-plus-waves-and-whispers “Otterley,” very near the end (Global Communications, anyone?) with its apparently ineradicable sadness, its isolated despondency…but her whispers, which keep coming through (“Still coming through!”), and is she whispering her name in the middle there? Is somebody trying to get through to me, to tell me something?

The choirs – think of the end of “The Beginning And The End” on Architecture And Morality, back when nights were differently dark – finally announce the entrance of the sun, of life, on the last track “Donimo”; the teasing anticipation, the way the entry of the drums is held back even though you know full well their deliverance is coming…

…and suddenly it all blossoms into explosions of radiant colours, of roses and rainbows, and twenty-two years after first hearing this record which I thought I knew as intimately and intricately as the palms of my hands, there she is, singing something I’d never heard before…and it is her name she is singing, your name, and I am happy that at the dawn of a forty-third year which I had at one time hoped never to have to see, the truth is confirmed and secure, that it is a truth that music can be summoned to live again, can bring life back to existence, that I had to wait and experience what had to be experienced before I could hear Liz Frazer singing in 1984 what I needed to hear in 2007…and that is precisely what this Church was built to do.


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