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TH FAITH HEALERS (UK) (Buy CDs by this artist)
A Picture of Health EP (UK Too Pure) 1991
In Love EP (UK Too Pure) 1991
L' (Fr. Too Pure/Virgin) 1992 (Too Pure/American) 1995
Lido (Too Pure/Elektra) 1992
Don't Jones Me — and Then Some EP (Too Pure/Elektra) 1993
Imaginary Friend (UK Too Pure) 1993 (Too Pure/Elektra) 1994
Too Pure — The Peel Sessions (Strange Fruit/Dutch East India Trading) 1992

The first group signed to England's Too Pure label (PJ Harvey, Moonshake, Stereolab), Th Faith Healers stirred up an early buzz by playing entire concerts consisting of three songs and just about as many fuzz-drenched chords. The cream of the London quartet's early non-album work is collected on the seven-song L', in which trance steamroller "Delores" and the epic sludgefest "Slag" are balanced by the surprising delicacy of "Lovely." The band writes some catchy melodies, then does its best to shred them to pieces, as on "Gorgeous Blue Flower in My Garden" and the acerbic "Pop Song."

With Can's "Mother Sky" as its centerpiece, Lido finds guitarist Tom Cullinan, bassist Ben Hopkin and drummer Joe Dilworth cranking out hypnotic drone rock that crests with cathartic power and recedes. Whether predicting someone's imminent demise in "This Time," sending up the "Love Song" or pole-axing the resurgence of '60s counterculture in "Hippy Hole," singer Roxanne Stephen chants or screams perverse, nursery rhyme lyrics. (The resequenced American edition adds a recut version of "Reptile Smile" and "Moona-ina-Joona," a track not on the British LP.)

Imaginary Friend (for which the band picked up the America-only "UK" appendage) is another collection of cyclical mantras, climaxing with the 20-minute "Everything, All at Once Forever," which reappears after ten minutes of dead space for an extended coda. The transcendence-through-repetition vibe is heightened by the haiku-like lyrics; Stephen works over the phrase, "See, sun, scent" in "Kevin" until the syllables stop making sense and become just another texture in the sonic whirlpool. In the same way, Cullinan works the core riffs in "Heart Fog" and "Sparklingly Chime" until they splinter into white-noise fragments.

Th Faith Healers disbanded in 1994. Cullinan formed Quickspace.

[Greg Kot]
   See also Stereolab