The Sublime Magic of Catatonia

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Though it might easily double as Catatonia's debut album, The Sublime Magic is, in fact, a compilation of all but one of the band's pre-Blanco y Negro releases. Only the For Tinkerbell debut EP is absent, as the collection races from 1994's Hooked EP (also available on the Crai EPs mini-album) through the "Whale" and "Bleed" singles issued during 1994-1995 and wraps up with a couple of tracks gifted to various-artists compilations during the same period -- "Bleed" originally appeared on Volume Four, and the hidden "Cariadon ffol" was first featured on Ankst's S4C Makes Me Want to Smoke Crack, Vol. 1. In addition, arch collectors should note that "Whale" is the English language version of another scarce various-artists giveaway, "Gwe," from the Triskadekaphilia collection. Of them all, "Bleed" rates among Catatonia's best-ever releases -- their first indie chart hit, it incorporates much of the energy and humor that would become the band's major-label calling card, a potent portent of the sheer effervescence that would characterize "Mulder and Scully," "Road Rage," and all. But, with the exception only of the faintly disappointing Hooked material, there really isn't a less than scintillating moment on board, with "Cariadon ffol" not only bouncing along on a contagious melody, but also highlighting just how absurd rock & roll's obsession with the English language is. In terms of attitude, swagger, and commitment, Welsh sounds far more purposeful.