Monday, June 30, 2008

Great review of My Bloody Valentine live here on 3AM Magazine, which has a lot of similarities to my experience at the Roundhouse. I managed to sit through the entire white noise middle-eight of You Made Me Realise without the assistance of ear-plugs, which surely entitles me to some kind of award. I'm guessing that it was around half an hour in a two-hour set, but I could be wrong. Like the scene near the end of 2001 when Dave Bowman goes into the monolith 'Star Gate', time became twisted and compressed - it could have been anything up to 30 minutes, during which time the eyes were bombarded by advancing patterns of light on the screen and the ears by a sound equal to a Boeing Jet 747 taking off. I distinctly remember my heart skipping a beat from the sheer noise when, finally, they slammed back into the main riff of the song, just after that pause when Belinda and Kevin breathily pronounce the song title. What it reminded me of the most is the maelstroms of noise that Merzbow and Whitehouse delivered with their sets in London recently, which makes me think that MBV never did settle for just being an indie guitar band of the kind that they influenced (a point dwelled upon with this post by Blissblog). Whether the lineage of MBV's sound can be traced all the way to the nadir of Oasis is a moot thought - the Gallagher brothers, after all, initially modelled themselves on Ride as well as The Beatles, while Ride's early EPs and first album (still their best releases) were influenced hugely by MBV (specifically Isn't Anything). However, it's easy to forget just how daring and avant-garde MBV could be, from the Steve Reich-like flute loop that precedes Soon to the grinding industrial barrage on the Glider EP - again bridging the link between MBV and the Noise movement, as well as the likes of Glenn Branca, Swans, etc.

Anyway, what struck me particularly with the tracks from Loveless - always much more of a studio creation than Isn't Anything - was how exact it sounded to the record, with some kind of foot pedals being used by Debbie Goodge that triggered samples from the album. Elsewhere, Soon illustrated just how much MBV could have grooved if they'd chosen to follow that path on a new album which will probably never materialise; in it's own weird way, it's just as funky as Fool's Gold or anything by the Happy Mondays. It's impact live was to finally inject some kind of visceral rhythm into proceedings. But the real highlight for this reviewer was To Here Knows When - still incredible sounding, with it's lava of guitar noise, the track was stunning in a live setting, the film backdrop exploring what looked like a hidden palace of some kind, while Belinda Butcher's vocals trailed away in a whisper, surrounded by jets of molten guitar lighting up the sunset. That track alone made up for missing Glenn Branca's 100 guitar orchestra at the same venue nearly a year ago.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


So six months (or even longer) after the announcement that My Bloody Valentine have returned and will be playing live, Goodnight London will be attending the Roundhouse on the Sunday. A full fifteen years ago (or whatever it is) after playing live, it should be interesting to see exactly how those studio creations are replicated in a live setting. Indeed, having never seen them live back in their heyday, it's almost impossible for me to imagine almost anything from Loveless played live (particularly To Here Knows When, with it's aural Universe of guitar haze and submerged, barely discernible drum loop). Given that there probably wasn't a huge amount of people who saw them live directly post the release of Loveless, the album has become almost a museum piece, immutable and non-changing in people's minds, so much a product of the studio that the thought of it actually being played live is still difficult to comprehend in some ways.
Both Isn't Anything and subsequently Loveless are so of their time - pre-Internet, pre-Britpop indie, pre-grunge even, when indie really was indie (despite the cross-over appeal of The Stone Roses) - that the prospect of MBV in 2008 is something of an anachronism. It can't even be compared to another performance that Goodnight London recently witnessed at the Roundhouse which harked back to a similar era, Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation played in it's chronological order, because of that band's constant output and activity. In contrast, MBV's disappearance from view has led to a cult mystique that's exacerbated in this comeback by the lack of any new pictures of the band (the one in the flyer above is from 1988 at least).
Just as with that concert, though, this MBV show will doubtless be a bizarre nostalgia trip for much of the audience (including me).
It'll also feature in the Metro and some other papers, no doubt - itself a strange thought. MBV have always represented a kind of outsider music that combined with their two guy-two girls androgynous appeal, along with the deliberate blurring of Kevin Shields and Belinda Butcher's voices on their records, so that often you didn't know which is which. MBV's image is, in it's own way, another factor that remains so rooted in that period, first with the shoegazing fringes and then with the effeminate posing of Suede. They never were the kind of band that featured in anything other than the indie publications despite their huge cult following. But then the same could be said about Spiritualized. How times move on...

Monday, June 02, 2008

Bo Diddly RIP

The business of moving rooms has conspired against me when it comes up to blog updates but will be back pretty the meantime, another legend bites the dust.

You've been taking
Taking all my money and my clothes
You don't love me baby
You don't love me
Now I know