Sometime in the Spring of 2001, I was sitting in the office at WAIH, thumbing through CMJ Weekly when I spotted a review for Claire Voyant's Time and the Maiden. The Cocteau Twins and 4AD Records in general were name-dropped and I gave the Metropolis Records college radio promotions department a call to ask for a copy to be sent.
As it turned out, Time and the Maiden was actually a reissue, having originally been released on the band's own Nocturne Records in 1998. The Metropolis version tacks on two remixes and a previously unreleased song. It was also not the record they were promoting at the time, that actually being the remix CD Time Again. Regardless, the label sent both Time and the Maiden and Time Again to WAIH with the expectation that the latter disc would be charted. Diligent as a music director, Time Again was put on the RPM playlist and did get a good amount of play. Personally though, I've never been terribly fond of most remixes, so an album full of them didn't do much for me. But Time and the Maiden damn near immediately because one of my favourite albums.
The group consists of three members: Benjamin Fargen (guitars), Chris Ross (keyboards, programming) and lead vocalist Victoria Lloyd. It's pretty simple really, if you like the Cocteau Twins, Lush or The Sundays, you should like this group. Here we find ourselves comfortably located in the land of lush, beautiful, haunting dreampop. When I first purchased this CD, I remember many nights where I'd put it on repeat play in my CD player and just let it wash over me.
When I had an RPM playlist slot to fill during my radio show, I'd give something off of Time Again a spin, but otherwise, I was playing songs from Time and the Maiden. "Iolite," in particular, got heavily played on my show.
In all honesty, I think the remixes on Time Again destroyed most of these songs. The staff at AllMusic.com must be smoking some crazy crack to think Time Again warrants 4½ stars while Time and the Maiden only gets 3 stars. A grave injustice, I say!
Time and the Maiden is Claire Voyant's second album. The group's self-titled debut was released in 1995 on Nocturne, reissued in 1998 on Hyperium and reissued once more in 2000 on Accession. Each reissue changed the cover art – collect all three? Good luck if you can get your hands on one copy though. I've never been able to get my hands on a copy of the disc and it currently seems to be out of print (again). Amazon.com is offering the album as a digital download, which to me is like only owning half an album. I refuse to purchase MP3s, which as far as I am concerned are what you get when you rip a CD to your computer, not something that one should acquire divorced from the physical media they are derived from. Frustratingly, as of this writing, if you want that physical CD, expect to pay at least $26.39 or as much as $55.99 to get a used copy. While I want a copy of the album, that is just not in my price range. A CD should never cost more than $10 (and a used CD should cost less than that).
As originally produced, "Blinking Tears" closed the album. However, my copy is the Metropolis reissue. As such, there are three additional tracks to listen to. I like having "Instinct," as it would otherwise be unavailable but I question the need for remixes. Unlike most of the grafted beats which plagued Time Again, these two mixes don't bother me as much. The "low mix" of "Love The Giver" makes Claire Voyant sound like Switchblade Symphony, though between Victoria Lloyd and Tina Root, there should be no question as to whom is the better singer. Meanwhile, the "bitter mix" of "Bittersweet" gives the original song a similar understated treatment.