Soon

My Bloody Valentine made the four piece indie guitar band sound like something else entirely with their 1988 album Isn’t Anything. There were other bands in a similar area- Dinosaur Jr and Sonic Youth for two- but they don’t really sound like what Kevin Shields, Colm O’ Ciosoig, Belinda Butcher and Debbie Googe were doing.  MBV’s 1990 single (and a year later Loveless album closer) Soon is another thing again.

Soon

Shields found a new way of playing and most people assumed it involved tons of pedals but apparently not. Shields mainly just used open strings and tunings and the tremelo bar. In the studio (or multiple studios in the case of Loveless) Shields sent his guitar through one amp, his and Belinda’s vocals split through different amps and mics and made a huge sound. The drums on Soon sound sampled, played by Colm but in pieces and then sampled to make drum tracks. Shields got into sampling while recording Loveless but says he was mainly sampling the guitars, feedback and distortion mostly, while the vocals were often done early in the morning after being up all night recording. In 2007 Shields said that what you can hear on much of Loveless is ‘the sound of the guitar bending. What you hear is the sound between sound.’

Soon is a stunning song. The video, a little dated now perhaps, manages to do it some kind of justice, a low budget hazy and washed out approximation of what Soon sounds like.

Fear

Flaming June eh? How come it’s nearly half way through 2016 already? Today’s offering is a treat for noiseniks from 1998, Kevin Shields remixing Mogwai and their already fearsome Mogwai Fear Satan song. Shields goes for broke with this sixteen minutes long song, adding flute and what at one point sounds like bagpipes to the guitar feakery. The first play of this on 12″ when it came out made me wonder if the stylus or stereo were broken and although the breakdown section at around nine fifty is pretty beautiful it’s probably not best served at a family barbeque. Credit where it’s due, thanks to DH for his photo of a forest in the Lake District taken at the weekend.

Mogwai Fear Satan (My Bloody Valentine Remix)

Slow

Just a year or so after making (yesterday’s) Strawberry Wine single MBV were going further and deeper, as this beauty from the You Made Me Realise ep shows- the bass riff is like, erm, trippy sex. The picture shows Kevin Shields’ guitar pedal board. I saw him when he played with Primal Scream once and on some of the songs his hand movements had no obvious relation at all to the sound his guitar and amp were making.

Just plug that in there, stamp on that knob and off you go…

Slow

Strawberry Wine

Oh dear, back to work. It’s only when you have time off and actually relax that you realise how consuming your worklife is.

It’s funny that My Bloody Valentine sounded like this in 1987- sing song and 60s and lightweight.

Strawberry Wine

More Light

On reflection I think the new Primal Scream song, in it’s full nine minute version, is rather good. I mean, they’ve gone back to the sound of their XCLTR and Evil Heat albums in order to move forward, and this is good right ? Because their last two lps have been at best average, at worst poor. The siren/sax part is great, Kevin Shields is on guitar, the rhythm rocks, Holmes is in the production chair, the remixers should have a ball. The lyrics- well I know we should be applauding because no-one really addresses anything ‘political’ anymore do they? (but they’re a bit silly too, constant rhyming on words ending in tion leads to cliche in my book, and we all know TV talent shows are shit but are they really ‘the subjugation of the rock ‘n’ roll nation’?).

So, on balance… good I think. You may disagree (as Drew and Ctel will I suspect).

Don’t Ask Why

I’m not saying that Don’t Ask Why is necessarily any better than Soon or You Made Me Realise but recently when I’ve listened to this year’s remastered version off the My Bloody Valentine ep’s 1988-1991 compilation it seems like the perfect blend of narcotic, post-coital wooze, melody, distortion and noise. It is total MBV perfection.

Don’t Ask Why

Yo La Remix

I found this recently and was going to wait for autumn but frankly that involves planning- Yo la Tengo put out a career spanning double disc about a decade ago. Limited quantities came with a third disc, the main highlight of which was this- Autumn Sweater remixed by MBV’s Kevin Shields. Autumn Sweater is a beautiful, slow burning song of lost love, shyness, leaves turning brown and the need for an extra layer of clothing. Kevin Shields sidesteps that for a drum loop, a repeated organ part, an isolated and distorted vocal, an overloaded bass riff. Then he begins to add some other loops, all running on and on for just shy of nine minutes. Stunning.

Autumn Sweater (Kevin Shields Remix)

City Girl

A return to recent postee Kevin Shields and a song from the soundtrack of Lost In Translation (which came out in 2003. It really doesn’t seem that long ago). Lost In Translation starred Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray as a pair of Americans marooned in Tokyo. The soundtrack was pretty good, featuring two other Shields songs, Death In Vegas, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Phoenix, Air and Squarepusher. This song is full of overdriven and distorted guitar, sleepy vocals and the sense of waking up very slowly, disorientated, while an amp overloads in a nearby room.

City Girl

Living Room

Apparently the remastered versions of My Bloody Valentine’s albums are imminent. At least four years after they were first mentioned I think I’ll believe it when I can actually pick up physical versions in a record shop. My vinyl copy of Loveless sounds pretty good but the cd versions of Loveless and Isn’t Anything don’t sound so good, so while I’m not always a fan of re-mastering maybe the MBV stuff will benefit from Kevin Shields tinkering and twiddling. There’s also a cd gathering the e.p.s, B-sides and extra tracks which should be good. If it exists outside record company promo releases.

Kevin Shields has done numerous remixes. I’ve posted some of them. Here he remixes David Holmes and his track Living Room, first available on the David Holmes ‘best of’ from a couple of years back. Living Room was on Holmes’ 2000 lp Bow Down To The Exit Sign, which I loved back then and looking at it now, reads like 2000 in a capsule- guest appearances from Bobby Gillespie, Martina Topley-Bird and Jon Spencer, found-sound clips from the streets of New York, funky instrumentals (69 Police), fuzzed-up Stooges style punk, and a mixed up stew of hip-hop, soul, rock and funk and little of the techno he made his name with. It’s good and very of it’s time. This remix, as you’d expect, is noisy.

Living Room (Kevin Shields remix)

We Need Nothing More


As far as I’m aware, since they delivered Loveless in 1991, My Bloody Valentine have recorded only two songs- one was a cover of a Wire song Map Ref 41n 93w (posted here some time ago) and the other was this cover version of Louis Armstrong’s Bond theme We Have All The Time In The World. This is very swirly and dreamy and has Bilinda Butcher’s vocals to the fore (by MBV’s standards) but it’s also a pretty straight cover with Kevin Shields keeping the melody and strings intact. It hasn’t got that totally disorientating, weightless, headswimming effect that Loveless or Isn’t Anything had. Well worth a listen as a starter, especially if you stick Soon on afterwards for the main course.