I’ve had enough of sorting through identical sounding ambient glitch bands. Fortunately, I’ve found something really great to rescue me from Click Madness.

If you’ve been around for awhile, you may remember a project by Harold Budd and the Cocteau Twins called “The Moon and the Melodies”. Some great songs there, except that some songs sounded like the Twins and some like Budd, and it never really gelled into the Cocteau Budds. Good stuff anyway.

Now in our post-Cocteau world, Robin Guthrie (of the Twins) and Harold Budd have teamed up again with two albums (released on the same day) called “After the Night Falls” and “Before the Day Breaks”. The two albums are of a piece; even the song titles flow on from each other. Within are exquisitely woven sounds; Budd’s sepia-tinged piano and Guthrie’s flowing guitar, fusing into something airy and watery, light and shade and beautiful. But for the missing vocals of Elisabeth Fraser, it’d be like the Cocteaus never left.

And now this week’s offering of five random songs from the collection.

Suede by Ken Nordine
Album: Wink
You’ve heard Ken’s voice, even if you don’t know the name. He’s done voiceover work for films and commercials for decades now. But he’s also a very hip sort of beat poet guy in his warm cool way. I love his “Now, Nordine” shows, and “Word Jazz“.

This album finds him contemplating (in his schizophrenic way, Ken talking to Ken) windscreen wipers in love, the morality of licking lampshades, and here, the dangers of sneezing on suede.

It might be worth mentioning that the album was originally called “Twink”, before they changed it for obvious reasons. Ken doing Robert Shure’s “Twink” just sounds wrong. Semantic shift and all that.

All the Way to Reno (You’re Gonna Be a Star) by R.E.M.
Album: Reveal
Even though everyone knows R.E.M., and I like a lot of their albums, I still find something hidden in R.E.M. that I can’t get to. Maybe I didn’t listen to them early enough; they weren’t one of ‘my bands’. (U2 was never one of my bands either, but now I no longer care.) Maybe the incomprehensible mystique that they cultivated in the 80s still clings to them for me. And after Berry’s departure, trying to ‘get’ R.E.M. became impossible because the band I never really knew was gone.

That said, I still like Time magazine’s description of this album: a ride through the rain forest in a hovercraft. This song feels like driving somewhere out West, or maybe the beginning of Mulholland Drive.

Stories of Old by Depeche Mode
Album: Some Great Reward
Depeche was hitting their stride here, carving a template that they’d use for their next 20 albums: sexual dissolution encoded in religious metaphor, all wrapped up in the sharpest sound samples anyone had ever heard. When I first heard this song in the autumn of 1984 (driving down to Utah), I decided that Depeche Mode were the kings of neat noise.

Hong by Kiln
Album: Sunbox
Kiln is the best of the ambient glitch bands for my money. The mix of smooth chill and clicky percussion is perfect. It won’t bore you or put you to sleep, unless you’re happy to go there. Simple, but intelligent.

War Pigs by Faith No More
Album: The Real Thing
I never had a Sabbath phase because as a young Mormon boy I was askeert, but I do really enjoy this cover. If there had been any doubt about FNM’s metal credentials, let them be dispelled. And the lyrics: relevant for Iraq just as for Viet Nam.