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Chapter Seven

"That was done in a big flash digital studio that we got cheap, with really brilliant equipment. It sounded, well, not as good as it could have done. But that song is so underrated, one of the best we've written." — Robin Guthrie


Following Treasure, Cocteau Twins set off on a very prolific two-year period during which they released nearly as much material as they had in total in the previous three years. Aikea-Guinea is the first of these releases, making its debut in the spring of 1985.

In keeping with the trend established with Treasure, Aikea-Guinea explores new musical textures and atmospheres, creating multi-dimensional spaces within the music. Layers of guitar and bass cascade over one another like waves, building up to a crescendo and then crashing down upon one another. This analogy extends to the overall mood of the record, which can easily be described as oceanic.

The song titles allude to oceanic objects or places: "Aikea-Guinea" is, according to Robin, an old Scottish colloquialism for a seashell; a "kookaburra" is an Australian bird; and "rococo" is an old Italian word also relating to seashells (as well as a form of highly decorative architecture which often featured seashell motifs). ("Quisquose," according to a Cocteau Twins dictionary at www.cocteautwins.org, refers to something that is "hard to deal with or handle; ticklish.")

The music itself conjures images of large, crashing waves, placid blue lagoons, and even violent tropical thunderstorms ("Rococo").

In an interview in 1985, Robin had this to say about Aikea-Guinea: "That [the Aikea-Guinea EP] was done in a big flash digital studio that we got cheap, with really brilliant equipment. It sounded, well, not as good as it could have done. But that song is so underrated, one of the best we've written. It pisses over most things we've ever done, it's brilliant! I think the reason it didn't do any better than it did was purely down to the fact that it was called Aikea-Guinea and it wasn't an easy thing for people to say. I'm convinced that's the only thing that stopped it." [Jamming Magazine, 1985].

The band gave Mr. Grierson from 23 Envelope another chance at a video, and he managed to create perhaps one of the best and most characteristic videos the Cocteau Twins have ever done. Created for the song "Aikea-Guinea" and filmed mostly in black and white, it features a rotating nautilus shell spiraling slowly out of a still photo of Liz, followed by a warm and comforting montage of the band members at home, posing for photos and laughing around a piano while the cat wanders about the room. Now and again, Liz stops giggling enough to sing a little from behind a lace curtain. The images emphasize a more personal side to the band, with their music as more of a soundtrack to their day-to-day activities, which is something they apparently preferred over the relative lack of substance in the video for "Pearly-Dewdrops' Drops."

"Aikea-Guinea" has appeared in live performances for many years, and the song is consistently cited as being a favorite among Cocteau fans (it has been the number one choice in polls at this Web site). "Aikea-Guinea," "Quisquose" and "Rococo" were performed live regularly in shows during 1985 and 1986, with the former being performed as recently as the 1993/94 Four-Calendar Café Tour.

Outside of their own work around this time, Robin and Liz worked with label mates The Wolfgang Press on their LP, The Legendary Wolfgang Press and Other Tall Stories, where Robin played guitar on three tracks and Liz did backing vocals on the TWP cover of Aretha Franklin's "Respect."

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