I listened to nothing this morning bar about two minutes of Loveless, chopped and screwed, to try and ascertain if the CDs were, indeed, mislabeled. At work I was in a different office to usual, and on my own for the morning. Sans headphones, which I hadn’t taken, I had no way to hear music other than through a laptops internal speaker. So I worked in musical silence.
Kitchens of Distinction – The Death of Cool
I had a doctor’s appointment at 2pm, so worked from home after that, which marked the first time I could properly put some music on today. I fired up the laptop and opened a web browser, and was greeted with Amazon open in the top tab, and a recommendation that I might want to buy Capsule, the best of Kitchens of Distinction. Rob had chosen Strange Free World at a recent record club meeting, and I must’ve looked them up at Amazon afterwards, hence the recommendation. Not having Capsule, I reached for The Death of Cool, which I could pretty much manage without leaving my chair. It was, as usual, terrific.
My Bloody Valentine – Loveless
My Bloody Valentine – Isn’t Anything
Afterwards it made logical sense to carry on with strafing guitars and songs about sex, and crack out the new My Bloody Valentine remasters, especially after all the fuss about mislabeled discs and weird glitches in What You Want.
I stuck Loveless on first, the disc labeled as CD1 but which I strongly suspect is actually CD2, the new master from original ½ inch analogue tape. But who knows which version it really is?!
I still haven’t A-B tested it with the original CD, but might do at the weekend (Em’s working on Saturday so I’ll have time for that kind of indulgent geekery), but, playing it pretty loud, I definitely got what Shields described as “more physical, like you’re conscious that some people did this”, I felt like I took on more detail, like there was more of a spread of sound than I’m used to. I certainly air-drummed along with Colm in a way that’s not my typical response to Loveless, which I think of as being a balm, a head-trip, rather than a seismic experience.
I’m not a massive Loveless ‘stan’, like some people I know. I don’t remember where or when I bought it. I guess I must’ve been about 16 or 17. I always liked Only Shallow and Soon most, and the segues between tracks. I probably would say I love it (as much as one loves records), but, if forced at gunpoint to pick a top ten, I doubt it would quite figure in there. I find the way a lot of people talk about it can often become cloying; Taylor Parkes gets close to nailing it here for The Quietus. He veers close to getting overly flowery, but brings it back with sense – “Constant glare tires the ear” – and perspective. Loveless is great, but it’s not infallible. If I’m not in the mood for it, it can seem like pure and pointless obfuscation. But if I’m not in the mood for it, I simply don’t play it. And when I am in the mood for it, and I play it, especially from now on, what a rush…
Sometimes I want to say that Isn’t Anything is better than Loveless. It’s certainly more dynamic, more varied, more physical, more rhythmic. The opening three tracks are amazing: the bass runs in Soft As Snow (But Warm Inside); the irresistible tumescence of Cupid Come’s denouement. Feed Me With Your Kiss might be the most relentless, powerful, physically noisy thing they ever did (more so than You Made Me Realise, even).
I think really that I just want to shed some of the shade that Loveless casts over Isn’t Anything. It’s not that Isn’t Anything is better (though it is very, very good indeed); it’s that Loveless maybe isn’t quite the godhead that some have exulted it as. Hold them together.
Cornelius – Point
After that I decided to listen to Point by Cornelius, which I mentioned last night as an example of music made at a cultural remove from the source inspirations. I can’t remember how the conversation got there. Point doesn’t ‘move’ me in an overtly emotional sense like some music I love, doesn’t establish new aesthetic worlds like Loveless might do if you’re in the mood, but it is an incredibly well-crafted and pleasurable listen.