Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday Fury: My Bloody Valentine, 'Soon'

Kevin Shields is one of those unique musicians that comes along every generation or so, equal parts genius and infuriating perfectionist. The bands zenith came with the release of ‘Loveless’ in 1991 an album made over the course of two painful years, worked on in 19 separate London studios with a laundry list of recording engineers. Shields dominated the record, agonising over the minutiae of every note. He later revealed that he played all the guitar and bass tracks on the album while the vast majority of the percussion came from cut up samples of Colm Ó Cíosóig’s drumming.

When Alan McGee of Creation records signed My Bloody Valentine he expected great things, but his patience was tried when the costs started to spiral out of control. Shields and vocalist Belinda Butcher became affected with tinnitus due to playing at obscenely high volumes, Shields insisted on using as little guitar effects as possible preferring elaborate routes to achieve what was essentially the same result and Butcher refused to let engineers hear her vocal takes, cutting off the sound to the booth and recording behind a curtain. Studio assistance was hired and fired with alarming regularity as Shields stove for immortality.

All of this meant that there was pressure to deliver something special and Loveless proved to be just that. With his furious tremolo bar wavering, Shields conjures a gargantuan wall of impressionistic feedback with gives the tracks an out of time floating quality. He reveals inner melodies within the melodies burying the muted dreamy vocals, which tend to run together into one vast cloud. The closing track ‘Soon’ first appeared on the Glider EP and was a conscious attempt to produce something more suited to the dancefloor. The sampled, almost baggy drumbeat propels the track forward with singular intensity while Shields continues to burn forcefully melting his guitar and mixing the remnants with Butchers punch drunk, almost inaudible vocals. An unforgettable woozy blur.

Where to find: Loveless (1991)

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