The best 4AD band who never actually signed to 4AD...
Cranes were/are from Portsmouth and there early releases were on local label Bite Back, they eventually signed to dedicated records
“Is that Mister Peel?” His voice was unmistakeable. “That song you just played from Cranes’ Self Non Self EP on Bite Back! Records… Err, it was at the wrong speed, I’ve got a promo copy…” After checking, Peel politely told the caller it was a 45rpm 12”; He'd been playing it at the wrong speed...... excellent !!
Alison Shaw’s voice is strange, though. “Like a baby crying in a toolbox” is one description, but “a helium whisper” is nicer. Back in 1989, Portsmouth scene “rivals” The Mild Mannered Janitors wrote Fuckin’ Ethereal, a song about Cranes and the press attention they received. Their association with The Cure (Robert Smith’s Jewel remix transforms it to a thing of even more beauty) led to a misplaced “gothic” tag. Cranes are beyond categorisation, though. Their strange rhythm-and-drum patterns are like malfunctioning clockwork heartbeats. Just when they settle into a gentle, brooding mood with Satie-like piano motifs, a more percussive disorientating piece will change things. Their 1991 full length debut is the more challenging, and includes selections from the Bite Back! days. 1993’s Forever is more accessible, however, and has the Robert Smith remix. Both are music to sleepwalk and have nightmares to.
One From the Slum
Joy Lies Within
Heaven or Bliss
Nothing in the Middle, Nothing at the End