This Mortal Coil was not a band, but a unique collaboration of musicians recording in various permutations, the brainchild of 4AD kingpin Ivo Watts-Russell. The idea was to allow artists the creative freedom to record material outside of the realm of what was expected of them; it also created the opportunity for innovative cover versions of songs personal to Ivo. An example of this was the Cocteau Twins-starring version of Tim Buckley's â€˜Song to the Sirenâ€™ which became the first This Mortal Coil release in 1983. Originally intended as a B-side for the â€˜Sixteen Daysâ€™ 12", the result was so powerful that it was decided it should be the A-side of a 7" single.
This Mortal Coil's full-length debut, It'll End In Tears, arrived in October 1984 and was a long-term feature at the top of the UK Indie charts. In addition to the Cocteaus, this brilliantly-woven aural tapestry featured members of 4AD artists Colourbox, Dead Can Dance, Modern English, Xmal Deutschland and The Wolfgang Press, plus ex-Magazine/Buzzcocks frontman Howard Devoto and celebrated cellist Martin McCarrick (who has worked with everyone from Marc Almond to Therapy?).
Ivo turned his attention to the follow-up record shortly after It'll End In Tears was released. Work began at Palladium in Edinburgh, with Martin McCarrick and studio proprietor Jon Turner, and the record was finished with John Fryer at Blackwing in London. Named after a song by the '60s band Fever Tree, Filigree And Shadow was intended from the start as a double album. As before, he drew on a large pool of musicians - Simon Raymonde made important contributions, as did members of Colourbox, Dif Juz and The Wolfgang Press - but this time the bulk of the vocalists came from outside 4AD's orbit. The selection of cover versions included material by Tim Buckley, Gene Clark, Tom Rapp, Judy Collins and Colin Newman. Filigree And Shadow was issued in September 1986, preceded by a limited edition 10-inch single coupling striking interpretations of Van Morrison's â€˜Come Here My Loveâ€™ and Talking Heads' â€˜Drugsâ€™.
A reflection of a turbulent period in Ivo's life, 1990's Blood was always intended to be the collective's final recording. Once again, John Fryer, Jon Turner and Martin McCarrick all played significant roles in shaping the music, while the vocals came from This Mortal Coil newcomers such as Caroline Crawley, Heidi Berry, Kim Deal and Tanya Donelly. Cover versions this time out included songs by Chris Bell, Syd Barrett, Rain Parade, Rodney Crowell and Mary Margaret O'Hara, while Ivo's own lyrics graced several of the album's originals.
Today, 4AD launches its online US store. All back catalogue releases will be available from the site, alongside a number of exclusive offers and releases. To coincide with the launch, 4AD is able to offer details of a new This Mortal Coil boxset, available to pre-order now.
On November 8th (US) / 14th (UK), 4AD will be issuing a boxset of all three This Mortal Coil albums. Each record has been re-mastered from the original analogue studio tapes by John Dent at Loud...