Somewhere in the ether, below the comets and beyond the wall of sleep, is a sunsplash of sound known as Shoegaze.
Shoegaze gets the name from the performers' style when playing live. They'd hunch over their instruments in the shadows and stare at the floor as they played.
It is a unique genre with two close cousins; space rock, and dream pop. Shoegaze, an English phenomenon of the late 80's-early 90's, was a sonic phenomenon. It was a very loud music, emphasising heavily distorted repetitive riffs, or long drones. It was constantly awash in feedback, almost at all times, layered, filtered, flowing, avalanches of feedback. Melodies and vocals were given equal distortion, and buried deep in the mix until it became impossible sometimes to distinguish instrument from voice.
Despite the immense amounts of white noise and murk, these records still managed to be quite tuneful at times, and often had an immensely sad vibe to them. The performers themselves were a notoriously shy bunch, by rock standards, and were seldom very good interviews.
My Bloody Valentine gets credit for inventing the style; their 1991 Loveless album is the masterpiece of this genre. Their influence was deep and profound; informing legions of indie bands. Among their contemporaries and early followers were Catherine Wheel, whose "Black Metallic" is perhaps the genre's most well known and cherished tune, Ride, who had a more psychedelic sound, and the Verve, who later evolved into a space rock band and scored some hits.
Shoegaze rocks less than space rock, and it is rougher sounding than dream pop. There is crossover among all three genres; Lush and the Boo Radleys could fit into shoegaze or dream pop; The Verve and Chapterhouse could be called shoegaze or space rock. By the mid-90's, it was gone; most groups had either broken up, or evolved out of the genre.
But tonight we're gonna bathe in feedback and get introspective. Tonight is Shoegaze night.
The following titles were randomly selected by Media Center from all titles in my library with "shoegaze" genre tags, a pool of 128. The first ten randomly selected are profiled Jam Tags, 1-5 stars, follow:
1. Ride: Kaleidoscope ****
Ride had a little more pop songcraft than most of the shoegazers; Kaleidoscope is a catchy psychedelic pop number. Soundling like a cross between Echo and the Bunnymen and the Byrds, with wall-of-sound feedback and tuneful bass, this is more upbeat than the remainder of this excellent album. The album from which this is taken is often cited as shogaze's second best album.