Titania: Titania (Independent, 2003)

by Jason

TitaniaTitania, hailing from Alberta, Canada, is a duo consisting of Mandy Cousins and Michael Turner. Michael Turner weaves beautiful soundscapes behind Mandy‘s vocals that are both angelic and beautiful. This album is a mix of ambient and shoegaze elements, depicting vast soundscapes. It is beautiful and angelic in many of its qualities and Cousins and Turner make a great pair in this respect. Also, the album seems whole and not segmented. Their vision for the album comes out as a unity of sound that both inspires and relaxes.

“Ice Arcana” is a beautifully spacious track with soaring vocals, shimmering guitar, and accents of stereo acoustic guitar. It is a brilliant entrance into the world Titania wishes to introduce their listeners. “Tinsel Starred” has lightly tripping music that, perhaps because of the Christmas season and the title of the song, reminds me of a beautiful Christmas tree glistening in the light. Childlike vocals grace this track and a shaker really leads the percussion as stars seam to twinkle at you through the spacious guitars while soundscapes recall the vast peace of space or icy plains. “Radiance” is a brief track that really demonstrates Titania‘s ability to use stereo effects to bring feeling to their songs. The melody in this song is subtle and gorgeous, not unlike the Cocteau Twins. Perhaps this is Titania‘s anthem to beauty. “Digitaria” is filled with soft/warm guitars and beautiful vocals. Mandy Cousins has a very expressive voice that helps translate the feeling of the song and fills it out nicely. The song is grandiose, full, and the guitars glimmer, sparkling with shimmering expression. Underneath it all, the percussion dances with high hat, cymbals and triangle.

An airy world blows throughout the beginning of “Angelica.” A child’s toy plays in the background while Cousins‘ truly angelic voice accents the song. Subtle bass and shimmery guitar fill out the song while heavenly wind blows by giving way to exquisite piano and snare. If it was Titania‘s intent to evoke “all the angels,” I think they may have come close on this album. Having been ushered into the presence of Angels, Titania invokes sound like Orpheus invokes poetry. The very brief interlude of “Invocation” gives the listener a summons to delve further in the lush soundscapes of Titania. “Pale Sister” is more tribal with Cousins‘ vox pouring over them. The melody sours over the drums while keys accents the song throughout. Perhaps the transition from lofty angels to more of a savage feel is meant to bring the listener back to earth. This song recalls vast open plains, perhaps in the Sahara Dessert.

“Radium Pearl” is a mix of piano with acoustic guitar and light percussion. This is probably the most straightforward of the tracks with a great melody and, of course, Cousins‘ angelic vox. Moving from an upbeat song, Titania takes the listener to a bright track introducing Enya style vox and shimmering guitars. “Postscript” is a mellow track with bells. This is a perfect song for driving down that country road at dusk on a cold winter’s day. “Blue Iris Eternal” is a listful, ambient track that is very relaxing. This has the feel of Brian Eno or The Sound Gallery at their most serene. This track closes out the album beautifully and leaves the listener wanting more.

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