Review Summary: Here on my ownSlowdive
is the first EP by the band Slowdive. Slowdive is a shoegaze band and Slowdive
is a shoegaze EP. Probably the
shoegaze EP; forget My Bloody Valentine ever existed and you’ll struggle to find a purer distillation of the aesthetics and pacing and near absence of dynamics and textures that make shoegaze, uh, gaze. Further down the line, Slowdive would distinguish themselves from their genre peers with their competent songwriting chops (shock horror), and seamless integration of dream pop and post-rock, but Slowdive
does none of this; there are three tracks on this record, but I’d hesitate to say it contains a single ‘song’. The opener “Slowdive” almost gets there because it contains distinct sections that occur in an order you could call ‘structured’, but it’s really just a five-minute swirl around one wailing ‘riff’, spaced out with gorgeous arbitrary whateverness and accompanied by slurred lyrics that no-one will ever remember. It’s perfect. Its half-awake atmosphere is so dense that it’s impossible to tell whether it pertains to dawn or twilight; it owns
those drowsy immemorable sections, it floats and blurs like a thousand unanswered questions and its warmth is the cosy disconnect of knowing that no moment of resolution could ever be as satisfying
The remaining tracks “Avalyn 1“ and ”Avalyn 2” are perhaps the all-time greatest showcase of shoegaze’s homogenous side, repetitive beyond the point where you can count their repeats and borderline immemorable in their minutiae. Their anchoring bassline, ceremonious keyboard drone and heavenly crooning are just enough to be held onto, unvarying as they are; the waves of feedback that chart their flow are too distant, too delirious to be remembered in concrete detail, yet their pulse and shimmer might as well be the only music to have existed while they’re playing. These tracks start from nowhere and go nowhere; they could last forever and not be a second too long, a songwriting logic that asks itself how long is a moment?
and zanily declines to answer until it’s lasted as long as it needed to. Shoegaze was never about songwriting; why else do you think Loveless
has been so universally heralded? It was never about confines; it’s about turning the discrete into the continuous and elongating any given instance of music into an ongoing, unbroken stretch of oneiric haze, extracting a real moment from the idea of a dream. Who cares how, or if, you remember things like that? Who cares how you can look back at them and define
them and take pains to parse their layerings? Who cares how craftfully they’re constructed, so long as those moments hang and breathe and seep and clog the passage of time and draw you out of yourself and into an craving to be able to touch whatever beautiful, immaterial thing somehow gives this formless atmosphere such a clear centre of gravity. Slowdive
is just under twenty minutes long; I honestly can’t tell you where or when its moment starts and ends, and that’s not fucking bad for a debut EP with no songs.