The Cocteau Twins are such an iconic band that any release by a former member is always an event.
So Pearldiving, the first solo album by founder member and guitarist Robin Guthrie in nine years, is sure to send hardcore fans into paroxyms of delight.
By far the most prolific of the Cocteau’s trio, Guthrie’s Pearldiving comes hot on the heels of October’s Mockingbird Love EP and follows the death of his longterm collaborator Harold Budd.
It’s a burst of activity, partly enforced by the restrictions imposed by COVID-19.
“After Another Flower, released just a few days before the untimely passing of my friend and co-conspirator, I felt the need to break my studio down and build it up again afresh to clear my head,” Guthrie says.
“The dawn of many of my previous releases was travel. I loved being somewhere new to work but, for a while now, the pandemic hasn’t permitted that. So earlier this year I ‘stayed at home’ and created Pearldiving. This is my first instrumental album since Fortune and I guess I had some feelings to process.”
After more than 40 years in the business, Guthrie is not the type of leopard to change his spots and Pearldiving is precisely what you’d expect from such a master of soundcraft.
Instead of travel, he seems to have taken water and depth as his inspiration, creating washes of sound, over which melodies and counter melodies of electric piano and guitar meander like tributaries.
It’s luxurious and calming, like listening to a gently moving stream, tracks sliding seamlessly in and out of your consciousness.
There’s no real standout track among these 10 ambient instrumentals, but they’ve clearly been carefully compiled to create an overall mood.
No words are required, Guthrie can convey more in a three-note arpeggio than most artists achieve in a fistful of albums.
Inevitably there are moments, which recall the Cocteaus and it’s intriguing to imagine what Elizabeth Fraser‘s vocal might have added to soundscapes like Oceanaire and Questern.
It’s sophisticated music that sounds deceptively simple, with a complete absence of ego or ostentation, songs ebb and flow like waves on a beach, rising and falling away before ever quite reaching a crescendo.
More akin to classical music than indie-rock, Pearldiving is another great addition to Guthrie’s considerable musical canon.
A personal, peaceful record. it’s the perfect antidote for those moments when life feels like it’s getting too much, or you’ve had a truly lousy day at work.
It’s surely no accident that one of the songs is called On The Trail Of Grace, as Guthrie come pretty close to finding it here.
- Recorded, mixed and mastered by Robin Guthrie at his studio in Brittany, Pearldiving is out now via Soleil Après Minuit
- The album is available on CD and digitally on all major platforms, including Apple Music, Spotify and Bandcamp, where it can be ordered directly from the artist himself
- For more about Robin Guthrie visit him at his Website, Facebook, or Twitter