Sun’s Signature Golden Air Partisan Records
It’s not an exaggeration to say that Elizabeth Fraser possesses one of the most recognisable voices in alternative music. However, since the dissolution of Cocteau Twins in 1997, Fraser has kept an infamously low profile, only collaborating with choice artists like Jonsí or Oneohtrix Point Never. Suffice to say, Fraser devotees await any musical missive with bated breath.
A decade ago, ANOHNI invited Fraser and her life/musical partner, long-time Massive Attack drummer Damon Reece, to perform at the Meltdown Festival she was curating. The sketches of songs that percolated from that performance were the genesis of Golden Air, a scintillating five-track EP from the pair’s new project, Sun’s Signature, and the most realised and cultivated music either has released in years.
Sun’s Signature is an apt title for the pairing – this is music which toys with light and shade. But make no mistake, there’s something lurking in the dark here. Take Bluedusk, where Reece’s timpanis gently march through the opening refrain, Fraser’s words skipping coyly across the beat. Or opener Underwater, which begins with gently strummed minor chords and distorted percussion playing over an eerie music box melody, until halfway through when full-bodied guitars and Fraser’s layered harmonies crash in. The seven-and-a-half-minute odyssey Apples, in particular, shifts through these converging moods, with wind chimes, xylophones and otherworldly baroque chord progressions painting a tableau of love, desire and fear. “When the dream fades away,” sighs Fraser, “the dew of silence remains.”
Golden Air is certainly a dream, both for fans of Fraser and Reece, and in the way it purposefully keeps its full emotions just out of reach, dissipating before you can fully grasp them. Whether Sun’s Signature becomes Fraser and Reece’s new vehicle for expression or just another feather in their collective hat, Golden Air is an accomplished, beguiling work that leaves you hoping for more.