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Behind the Mystique of the Cocteau Twins

December 02, 1990|RICHARD CROMELIN

"There are a lot of things that have become sort of myths with the Cocteau Twins," said Simon Raymonde, one third of the myth-provoking band. Among the misconceptions he cited: "We don't like doing gigs, we don't like doing interviews, we're miserable, we're mysterious. . . ."

He was talking about the London-based trio's image as reclusive aesthetes who concoct ethereal sounds behind veils of secrecy.

But Raymonde says it's not so.

"Our problem, I guess, is that we don't hide what's going on," said the London native recently, sitting with his band-mates Robin Guthrie and Elizabeth Fraser in a West Hollywood Hotel. "If it's a bad interview, we don'tpretend to be really nice. . . . If we do a gig and Liz gets upset or breaks down or something, then it's a disaster and we're a moody bunch of (jerks). It's only because we're not actors."

In fact, the people behind the mystique are an agreeable Englishman and a sweet, down-to-earth Scottish couple with a year-old baby.

Agreeable and sweet, but not especially eager to unravel their musical tapestry. "Essentially we don't have anything to say at all about our music," group leader Guthrie summarized. "It's meant to be listened to."

The Cocteau Twins are getting listened to. Eight years after embarking on the British independent-music scene, they're on the big-league Capitol Records in the United States. Their first tour in five years, in conjunction with the new "Heaven or Las Vegas" album, will include dates at the Wiltern Theatre on Thursday and Friday, and another at the Hollywood Palladium on Saturday.

Guthrie and Raymonde layer the lush, shimmering textures and animate them with a gentle pulse, but it's Fraser's singing that really inspires the worship among the group's unusually devoted fans. Her strings of syllables--often unidentifiable as words--convey a radiant joy as they defy interpretation, which of course challenges listeners to read great meaning into them.

"People tend to put too much focus on the lyrics," Fraser protested. "It's not the be-all and end-all of our songs."

Added Guthrie, "The lyrics tend to fascinate people, but for me, when I listen to a record I don't always latch on to the lyrics. I listen to the whole thing and it may be five or six days before I even realize what the song's about."

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