There’s something about the crisp, sprawling, all-encompassing iciness of a New England winter that undeniably evokes the Cocteau Twins’ music and textures. Or perhaps this is merely a self-projection under the guise of seasonal elements to justify why I’m listening to the Cocteaus in this moment, when in reality, their albums are perfectly reasonable for any moment in time.
For those unaware, Cocteau Twins were a Scottish band that rose to popularity in the 1980s, and can be categorized as dreampop, proto-shoegaze, or simply alternative. The trio of Elizabeth Fraser, Robin Guthrie, and Simon Raymonde are known for creating dense, ethereal soundscapes with dreamy vocals and layers of time-based guitar, synth, and drum effects. Cocteau Twins were cited alongside the likes of The Cure and The Jesus and Mary Chain by first-wave shoegaze legends such as My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields and Swervedriver’s Adam Franklin as major influences on the genre.
As a musician, sometimes you’ll find yourself listening to an artist and abruptly wondering intensely about what kind of gear they were using when they recorded that piece. What started off as a normal day in the office concluded with a frenetic research-session-rabbit hole-dive involving the Cocteau Twins and Robin Guthrie’s guitar gear, all while being engrossed in 1984’s Treasure and toe-dipping into 1988’s Blue Bell Knoll. That’s when I stumbled upon this quote from Robin in a lengthy Guitar World interview published last year, nearly to the day:
“I've got this really interesting reverb that I've been using. In about 2017/2018, I bought a Source Audio Ventris pedal, which I can use for a lot of reverb-y things now. It's like my go-to big, swirly reverb at the moment.”
Suddenly, vindication! I was constantly playing around with the Ventris to try to cop some tones from 1990’s Heaven Or Las Vegas (in my opinion, Cocteau Twins’ magnum opus), and have been pleased with the reverberant results. The key to this 80s dreampop mood is the Hall engine, any size, and the Pre-Delay control knob, which will give you that classic “gated” sound when the pre-delay is set to audible levels — around noon (or higher) on the dial.
Check out the rest of the article below to learn more about what Robin has been up to since his days in the Cocteau Twins.
Coincidently, after a whole year in the shadows due to component shortages, we are finally expecting to get a new batch of Ventris reverb pedals through production in mid-January. This first batch in over a year will hit the shelves of your favorite Source Audio dealer soon thereafter. Stay tuned!
All the blogs are written by the Source Audio staff.