Tishbite - 1996

Tishbite (yellow edition) Yellow edition

     Tishbite
     Primitive Heart
     Flock Of Soul


Blue edition

     Tishbite
     Round
     An Elan
Tishbite (blue edition)

The CD-single Tishbite was released almost simultaneously with the Milk & Kisses album. There are two versions, for obvious reasons known as the 'yellow' and the 'blue' one.

Both CD's feature the title track, which is taken unmodified from the album. Both also contain two more tracks, some of which are quite good, and well worth trying to purchase. Although the original CD's are out of print all tracks are available through the Lullabies To Violaine compilation.

Tishbite

Quiet rhythms and a fairly straightforward melody. Not too many fireworks and just about comprehensible lyrics. Tishbite is a more or less typical track for Milk & Kisses.

Whereas the first two songs on the album feature dazzling instrumental parts the emphasis in most of the other ones is firmly on the vocals. In Tishbite indeed there is never any doubt that Liz is completely in charge. The song starts out a bit hesitant and takes a while to get going, but the chorus is truly inspirational. Liz is shining with some great vocal overdubs and the guitar puts in lots of extra effort as well.

There's an unexpected twist in the final parts where Liz makes the additional background vocal completely take over in some beautiful free verse that lasts deep into the fade-out. Most of this is really soft, so turning up the volume during the final thirty seconds is the only way to hear it all.

Primitive Heart

Cocteau tracks appearing as additional tracks on CD-singles often deserve much better, but this is of course not always the case. Although Primitive Heart is not a bad song one can understand why it was never released as an album track.

There's a gentle fade-in and an even gentler fade-out. Inbetween there are nice melodies, elegant vocals, and a prominent bass, possibly the most appealing feature. The sound is very light, and although released during the Milk & Kisses era the song appears to be more related to the style of Four-Calendar Café. But as the song quietly flows on nothing particularly noteworthy is happening. There's nothing to draw our attention or to make the track truly memorable.

Primitive Heart is a pleasant song, without any rough edges, quite suitable to be played in the background. But it's just that and really not much more.

Flock Of Soul

Take a gentle background guitar and add the best vocalist in the universe. You're bound to end up with a beautiful effort, but as Flock Of Soul shows the puzzle needs a few other pieces as well.

The track starts out promisingly enough, with a nice guitar tune and subtle percussion effects. Liz soon joins in with very high pitched vocals as Simon's bass supplies the complementary lower notes. It's all really beautiful, the sound is enchanting even if the melody isn't immediately all that obvious. But the song then simply continues in much the same fashion for another few minutes. Towards the end Liz shows us her wonderful technical skills as she produces an extremely high note and keeps it going for well over fifteen seconds. But even such a technically superb vocal performance can't totally salvage the song, which would really have benefited from some additional passion and energy.

It's not exactly fair to expect the band to produce a masterpiece every time. Flock Of Soul is, after all, just an additional EP track. And in some ways it's almost perfect. There's not a single note wrong with it. But it never quite manages to escape from its crystal chalice of beauty.

Round

A typical late Cocteau track, Round fits in very well on this CD-single as it sounds fairly similar to Tishbite.

With the vocals beautiful as usual and some dynamic guitars the band made Round into quite an enjoyable track. It follows a pattern used more often by the band: it starts out quietly, then gradually more instruments join in to increase both the volume and complexity. Loud guitars and vocal overdubs eventually weave a solid wall of sound, and everything is neatly concluded by a few simple last notes. Although this may sound a bit predictable the skills of the Cocteau Twins turn this recipe into great songs.

The band apparently did not think Round was good enough for Milk & Kisses. Luckily it was still released on the 'blue' Tishbite EP, and it's well worth its inclusion.

An Elan

More often than not the additional tracks on Cocteau Twins CD-singles are well worth listening to. And indeed An Elan is a truly inspired song, a wonderful piece of experimenting with a different format.

The song starts off in unusual fashion: a rock solid wall of sound is being put up, first guitars only, then some percussion is added and finally some sound effects are put in as well. At nearly four beats per second the rhythm is electric and the tension is mounting.

Then Liz enters the frame. First of all a few scarce but beautiful notes. Then some chatter-like backgrounds. Then a main melody. As the pitch of the song goes up she remains silent for a while, then starts off again and this time she ends up in a majestic vocal burst as few singers are able to. The song ends in a glorious climax with Liz singing at full power to the ever continuing wall of sound before she is allowed to sing the last line on her own.

It's a performance that many a band would have been exceptionally proud of, and any fan of the band should try and get a copy of this fantastic effort.