Wednesday, June 13, 2007

album of the day

Loveless by My Bloody Valentine.

Nirvana's Nevermind in Not Best Album Of 1991 Shock. Yes, it's a shocker: legendary, seminal grunge album featuring late, troubled genius (well, he wasn't late at the time, obviously) only #2 on my list. This, here, is #1. Why? Because it's a completely unique sonic experience.

Opening track Only Shallow sets the scene quite nicely: Kevin Shields' massive distorted guitar riff alternating with Bilinda Butcher's breathy vocals. Later songs screw the rock song template up even further; Loomer, To Here Knows When, I Only Said and Blown A Wish combine simple, repetitive melodies and fragile female vocals with pulverisingly warped, compressed, flanged, bent and distorted guitar noise, rather like listening to a children's lullaby during a hurricane, or possibly an all-out nuclear conflict of some sort. It also features the sublime Sometimes which was used on the Lost In Translation soundtrack, and the bowel-looseningly funky closing track Soon (number 16 in John Peel's all-time Festive 50).

This is an album you either need to listen to at high volume in a darkened room or, preferably, in a darkened room on a really good pair of headphones to fully immerse yourself in it. Some serious drugs wouldn't go amiss either. Remarkably, the band have spent the 16 years since its release failing to release a follow-up, for reasons that remain unclear. Then again, maybe they're not so unclear. How do you improve on perfection?

No comments: