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SWALLOW (Buy CDs by this artist)
Blow (4AD) 1992
Blowback (UK 4AD) 1992
Hush EP (UK Rough Trade) 1994

Although they were probably joking when they said it, the British duo of Mike Mason and Louise Trehy pretty much nailed it when, in an interview, they dubbed themselves the "Cockatoo Twins." The music on Blow fits rather stereotypically into the 4AD stable of cosmic, guitar-based angel rock — so much so it's almost (almost) possible to overlook the fact that, while beautiful, it is also stunningly derivative. Mason's churning, phasing-heavy guitar lines, supple melodies and store-bought drum patterns provide Trehy with quite a pedestal for her whispery, cherubic come-on of a voice. Though blissfully enjoyable, tracks like "Sugar Your Mind," "Cherry Stars Collide" and "Tastes Like Honey" are by-the-book 4AD.

The limited-edition Blowback ironically reveals the duo's strong points and ability to transcend simple allure in favor of something far more substantial. Composed of remixes and instrumental versions of Blow songs, the eight tracks show Trehy and Mason skilled at more than simple atmospherics. The dubby redux of "Peekaboo" and the voiceless guitar swoon of "Tastes Like Honey" are superior to the original versions, thus making Blow seem that much more negligible.

Swallow re-emerged without much fanfare several years later to release the four-song Hush EP, which includes a cover of Steve Miller's (?!) "Dear Mary." Although Trehy's unmistakable voice is still in full effect, Mason's gooey guitar lines are replaced with more straightforward playing and writing.

[Jason Ferguson]