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Swirling atmospheric instrumentation coupled with sensual female vocals
They say the powerful records are not the rockers but instead the slow unfurling melodies. The rockers are for now, they demand attention and focus, nothing strikes the exterior senses more than a finely tuned rampant hook ladened killer cut, of that there’s no doubt. The slowies though unravel on the unconscious senses, their taste is far more lingering as they slowly torment and hold hostage the emotions within the listener’s inner self.
So where is this leading you might well reasonably ask? In simple terms, to describing this duo’s debut release as Titania, because, (and this probably and, hopefully, won’t be the last time I’ll say this in 2004), this is a beautiful record, and one cast with such glowing mercurial precision that within two short listens will have you spellbound.
Titania are Michael Turner (music) and Mandy Cousins (vocals), both UK ex-patriots now living in Canada, a country which over the years has blossomed in terms of music into readily embracing all the best elements of the so called genre known as shoe gazing and atmospheric dream pop. Originally known as the Sensualists, (which in terms of the music provided on this album is pretty much as near a perfect description as you could think of), they already have three albums under their collective belt.
It’d be churlish to call this album anything but melting, wholesomely lush with sapping atmospherics; it’s enchanting evocations take you by the hand to somewhere unearthly and yet magical. thoroughly intimate and bashful in stature harnessing an anxious underside, ‘Titania’ bubbles with floating textures Turner’s gently undulating guitars weaving gossamer threads very much furrowing the same dreamscapes as Yellow 6 (‘Knowing and not caring’) and perfectly complimented by Cousins siren-esque vocals, at times magnificently cinematic at others simple numbing. Nearest comparisons beside Yellow 6 would be the obvious allusion to the Cocteau Twins (none more so than the pulse racing majesty of ‘Radiance’ which could certainly hold its own on ‘Garlands’) and Clannad who if you ever wondered what might sound like augmented by a trip hop spine then ‘Invocation’ would be as good a place as any to find out. Yet dig deeper between the flurries of hanging chords and the melancholic tides and you’ll find that ‘Titania’ possesses a dreaming network of tingling glacial pastoral quality about it, from the opening ‘Ice Arcana’ to the closing willowy symphony ‘Blue Iris Eternal’ the template never veers, the softly treading melodies are enigmatically peppered by the merest touch of oozing orchestrations, so distant and lonesome that you can almost touch the isolation that they radiate. ‘Tinsel Starred’ with its dreaming John Barry-esque resonance flounders in its own solemn hurt as the frosted spindles begin to wrap their icy enchantment to the proceedings, ‘Digitaria’ you’ll swear is All About Eve at their most gracefully while ‘Pan Angelic’ in spite of nibbling slyly at the Commodores ‘Three Times a Lady’ has all the breathtaking magnificence of Sigur Ros. However all pale in the shadow of the divine ‘Postscript’ like classic Kate Bush entombed in an ice mountain, Cousins inflames the simplistic though stately numbing arrangements with the kind of deeply sensual edge that’ll have grown men weak at the knees. Need I say more, I think not. Classy.
Mark Barton - Losing Today
Listening to the self titled debut by Titania I can't help but think of the work of Kate Bush, the Cocteau Twins, other artists who have celebated the beauty of the female voice. With this release, Mandy Cousins and partner Michael Turner have created a disc of stunning wonder, a collection of songs that showcase the fact that sometimes the best music needs to be sung.
Digitaria with it's guitar arpegios and simple percussion creates a hypnotic effect that leaves the listener in a state of blissful trance, euphoria. Rising and falling fretwork throughout this one highlight Michael's mastery of the guitar.
Tribal percussion opens Pale Sister, minimal instrumentation playing beneath Mandy's voice. Wonderful stuff here, rich sweeping vocals that set the hair on the back of my neck on end. Simply beautiful.
Smooth pads open track nine, Knowing and Not Caring, majestic guitar slowly building in their wake. Brilliant.
Postscript is a lovely piece that sends shivers up my spine it's so wonderful. A perfect piece of music where vocals, instrumentation, tension and emotion all come together in an ideal blend to form one of the most blissful pieces of music I've heard all year.
Without doubt, Titania is a fabulous introduction to a wonderful project that I hope to hear more from in the future. Fans of the aforementioned Bush and Cocteaus will find this disc indispensible.
rik - ping things
last updated 04/15/12