THE HOPE BLISTER ...Smiles OK (4AD)
Although This Mortal Coil, 4ADs wondrous, informal house band who produced three terrific albums between 1983 and 1991, are apparently long gone, those of us addicted to their wispy way with a popular tune can derive some comfort from what appears to be the debut release by The Hope Blister, an album on which TMC alumnus Louise Rutkowski sings wispy cover versions of popular tunes, with the guiding hand of mentor and label boss Ivo Watts-Russell never far away.
Actually, popular is something of a misnomer: even with the assistance of "The Great Rock Discography" I can only nail half of these eight tunes down to their sources, those being Heidi Berry ("Only Human"), David Sylvian ("Let The Happiness In"), Eno ("Spider And I") and John Cale ("Hanky Panky Nohow"). What The Hope Blister do to these songs, and others too obscure to mention, is strip them down to their basic elements, removing all instrumentation bar washes of synths and strings and rebuilding them as vehicles for Rutkowski to coil her exquisite diction around.
Although never less than pleasantly listenable, the formula ascends to the realms of greatness on their cover of Enos "Spider And I", already one of the Profs most subtly emotive tunes, and originally to be found at the end of his last song album, the exemplary "Before And After Science". As presented here, it has a string section backing so ripplingly textured you can almost touch it, and climaxes in a cacophony of Jesus And Mary Chain feedback and ruptured drum machine programming - an astonishing sound.
Whilst "...Smiles OK" sounds like thin gruel compared to yer average This Mortal Coil album (not that there was any such thing, of course), it nevertheless has a delicate and subtle charm all of its own, and an exquisite taste in music to boot. OK? At least!