REVIEW album Old Subbacultcha Old Subbacultcha

No surprises but plenty to enjoy on ex-Cocteau Twin Simon Raymonde's new project Snowbird

Old Subbacultcha

Old Subbacultcha

Bella Union's label head and former Cocteau Twin Simon Raymonde has dusted down his ebonies and ivories to team up with singer Stephanie Dosen for eleven songs of glacial wintry beauty, his first full album undertaking since the demise of the Cocteau Twins in 1997


Snowbird - Moon (OUT 27TH JANUARY)

In spite of Raymonde's gracious claim that this is 
"Stephanie's record", 
'Moon' is of course infused and haunted by that legacy (not to mention the reverb-drenched arrangements of
This Mortal Coil which he also played a part in) and although comparisons are inevitable, there is no doubt that it holds its end up well. Born across two continents with Raymonde composing the music on piano at night in London, then mailing them over to Dosen in North Carolina to layer in the vocal arrangements, that lack of physical proximity belies how intimate and cohesive the record sounds. No doubt helped in part by some formidable session musicians hailing from the none too shabby likes of
Midlake and
Lanterns On The Lake and of course Raymonde's own dexterous production with ear fine-tuned for beauty. The shade of Elizabeth Fraser hangs a-heavy throughout, opener
'I Heard The Owl Call My Name' setting the album’s stall out early with swirling rounds of multiple layers of Dosen, a thrillingly discombobulating effect of doubling, echoing and harmony that's all kinds of gorgeous. From thereon in with the circling voices as a constant North throughout,
'Moon' largely navigates between sparse reverb-doused piano ballads and fuller band arrangements more akin to their hired hands; Van Occupanter-era
Midlake and the softer side of
Lanterns On The Lake in particular. For the former there's the ethereal whisper of
'Charming Birds From Trees', the other-worldly echoes of
'Amelia' and the lovelorn
'In Lovely' which plays like a swooping old standard. For the latter see the pastoral folk and shuffling drums of
'Where Foxes Hide' or
'All Wishes Are Ghosts' where they waltz through several movements, slow building to a beautiful lovelorn refrain of
"just stay here my darlin'..." a la
'My Darling' from
'Summerteeth'. Album prelude
'Porcelain' is the standout here though;
Judee Sill-like devastation that segues into a piano arpeggio that's reminiscent of
'Street Spirit' floating beneath wonderful vocal intricacies from Dosen. And so whilst
'Moon' is undoubtedly everything you'd expect on paper it is hypnotically so and as lovely a slice of breathy dream pop as you could hope for to counter a bleak and stormy January.