Quiet – loud, quiet – loud. For people whose singing voices were slightly less audible than falling snow, My Bloody Valentine knew how to make some noise.
The singular sound that the band produced came about by mixing instruments and vocals at equal levels so that neither stood out. Kevin Shields was also adamant that he didn’t want choruses or too many guitar effects.
Melodies were in short supply, and the band sampled themselves and fed the tapes back into the mix.
Founder member Dave Conway left in 1987 and was replaced by Bilinda Butcher, who reportedly wowed the group’s Kevin Shields, Colm Ó Cíosóig and Debbie Googe by singing Dolly Parton‘s The Bargain Store at her audition.
Mixing translucent folk melodies and whispered vocals with revolutionary distortion, Isn’t Anything (1988) redrew the noise-rock map to embrace the molten fury of hip hop and the lysergic euphoria of acid house.
The album went off like fireworks inside your brain as Kevin Shields’ guitars bent the fabric of space and time, blending soft and hard textures, speed with torpor, and dissonance with dreamlike beauty.
By the turn of the decade, legions of shoegazing imitators had been spawned.
Their second album, Loveless (1991), was recorded in two distinct phases. The first phase produced the EPs Glider and Tremolo, then the band toured and then recorded the rest of the album, 10 of the 11 tracks being written by Shields (and recorded largely by himself, alone).
It was 22 years until a follow-up appeared. The long-long-overdue album m b v was released in 2013.
Bilinda Jayne Butcher
Colm Cusack (Ó Cíosóig)