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ECSTASY OF ST. THERESA (Buy CDs by this artist)
Fluidtrance Centauri EP (Free) 1993
Astralavista EP (Free) 1994
Free-D (Free) 1994

St. Theresa fell into trances, saw visions and heard voices after the sudden death of her father. She claimed to suffer pains in her side as a result of a fire-tipped dart of divine love, which — thrust into her bosom — made her swoon in ecstasy. No wonder that Ecstasy of St. Theresa would honor this figure of religious history, since the Prague group's hushed, ethereal take on psychedelia aroused those same hallucinatory states in many of its listeners.

The group's debut, a John Peel radio session released as Fluidtrance Centauri, unfortunately aligned them with the shoegazer movement, but Ecstasy of St. Theresa displayed more emotion and bite than an army of Slowdives and Boo Radleys ever could. After lulling listeners into a false sense of security with a soothing blend of reverb and sensuality, each of the three tracks violently shifts gears to bludgeon with acidic feedback that is startling in its intensity.

The follow-up, Free-D, is quite different — no effects pedals, but rather expansive instrumentals that draw more from Pink Floyd's Atom Heart Mother and Tangerine Dreams' Zeit than My Bloody Valentine. A stunningly beautiful album that sounded hopelessly out of place in 1994, Free-D was ahead of its time and influenced such bands as Seefeel and Disco Inferno in their synthesis of electronica and rock.

Not much else has been heard from the band since 1994, other than Astralavista, a collection of material remixed from Free-D. Astralavista signals a shift toward the ambient techno movement gaining momentum at the time, but the addition of beats adds nothing to the originals.

[Bill Cohen]
   
This piece was first published in Badaboom Gramophone #3 and appears here with permission.