Just the facts: Within the past few days, the Creation Records and Slowdive Facebook pages posted notices to their followers to be sure to engage with the newly created official Slowdive Twitter feed. That Twitter feed’s first four followers were four of the band’s members. Though no tweets have been posted by the band yet, singer Rachel Goswell and other ex-divers have, for the last several days, been posting a countdown that seems to be pointing to January 29.
And so nowspeculationabounds that Slowdive may be making an announcement on that date—and might that announcement be of a reunion? Given that the band is within the target zone of the standard 20-25 year nostalgia cycle, and that shoegaze godfathers My Bloody Valentine and bro-gaze champs Swervedriver have already taken the reunion plunge, it seems like a tantalizing possibility. Though their hastily recorded 1991 debut LP Just for a Day fell victim to a shoegaze backlash in the UK press, Slowdive proved that they were more than just the sum of their bowl cuts with 1993’s brilliant and luminous Souvlaki, and followed it up with the minimalist experiment Pygmalion in 1995. All these years later, it’s the strange and adventurous (and kind of Talk Talk-ish) Pygmalion that stands as my favorite of their albums, but at the time it was not a fan fave, and the band was dropped from Creation records almost immediately after its release. Three of the band members changed their name to Mojave 3 and continued on the 4AD label, and they’ve remained intermittently active under that name.
“I like to describe us as musical hypoalgesia because it’s silly and throw away, but kinda of a pretty idea too.” Steven Kane is talking about his band, Happy Particles, a talented sextet of musicians from Glasgow, who have just released their debut album, Under Sleeping Waves.
The band originally formed around Kane, who says:
“I had written a few songs, and basically asked people I was already in a band with to join, I also asked people who were in bands in Glasgow I liked. Pretty simple really, or pretty lucky to be more accurate.”
It wasn’t luck, but genuine talent and a shared interest and admiration that brought the Particles together - Alan Doherty - guitar, bass; Ricky Egan - guitar; James Swineburn - saxophone, rhodes piano; Gordon Farquhar - drums, percussion; Graeme Ronald - bass; and Steven Kane - guitar, vocals, laptop, piano.
Happy Particles are like a mini-supergroup with each member having a successful career with other bands: Doherty is with Prayer Rug, Egan is in Tangles, Farquhar with Stapleton, while Kane, Swineburn and Ronald are with with Remember Remember.
“As I say, it’s all connections through admiration of each others’ work. We are all pretty geeky and silly really, it just seemed pretty easy to play together.”
For a debut, Under Sleeping Waves is an stunningly assured and goosebumpingly good album.
“We recorded it with our friend Robin Sutherland in a converted barn in Dundee, and it was mastered by Ian Cook (Aereogramme/Unwinding Hours). It has various influences running through it from classical to shoe-gaze to slow-core guitar rock.
“Some tracks were almost finished before being brought to the band while others were written while jamming and others during the recording process itself. It’s a pretty varied record musically and this has probably got something to do with the fact it was all written and pieced together quite collage-like in some respects.
“Some of the tracks were written specifically to be as minimal as possible, trying to ring out as much from simple melodies as we could without it being boring.
“Some were written and then string arrangements were later done by James and Graeme individually, specifically to be more textured/complex. Lyrically I like to deal with abstractions that can also be personal to more people than just myself rather than beating someone with an obvious statement over the head.”
The subtlety and shimmering texture of tracks, such as “Aerials”, “Infinite Jet”, “Slowness” and “Classes in Silence”, makes Under Sleeping Waves the wish list album of the Christmas season and confirms my belief that the Happy Particles are destined for great things in 2012.
Under Sleeping Waves is available as a pre-order on bandcamp now - with an immediate download of two tracks. The album will be officially released on Christmas Day.
Over the years, the Variety Bar near Charing Cross, Glasgow has been a hotbed for artists and musicians: from painters, such as Steven Campbell, Peter Howson, and Adrian Wiszniewski, to the legendary AC Acoustics (one of John Peel’s favorites), Happy Particles and now, Pioneers of Anaesthetic.
Pioneers Of Anaesthetic is the name by which musician Steven Cossar writes, records and releases his music. Since 2000, Steven has recorded almost 400 songs, which he compiles onto “albums” of 30-40 tracks each, these are then sold or given away at gigs.
“I try not to use the same guitar tuning twice, although there are many identical tone intervals with transposed sets of strings. I have played occasional shows around Glasgow, which typically consist of 2 sets - One written and one written on the spot ; Instant Composition Improv, if you will.”
So successful is Steven’s Instant Composition that many of his audience have asked after shows if he is “actually lying and have pre-written the Improv sets.” For the record, he doesn’t, which makes Steven’s talents all the more exceptional and impressive - “Apparently, the less writing I do… the better.”
“I’d describe the music as short songs for a long attention span. The ideas and melodies are repetitive but usually dissolve quickly enough to (hopefully) warrant repeated listening.
“A recurring structural trait is to leave the flourishes and embellishments out until the last phrase or chorus, so that the song seems like a short glimpse of it’s potential and there is plenty left to the listener’s imagination.
“Lyrically, I rely on home-truthing and coming clean about stuff I’d usually shy away from in ‘real life’.”
It is this that makes Pioneers Of Anaesthetic’s music deliciously addictive, the songs, none of which last much more than 1 minute 30 seconds, are short enough to catch interest, but finish before that interest is sated.
Steven’s interests and influences include Guided By Voices, Red House Painters, and Lou Barlow. He’s also claims he is “Inspired by the approach of the late Hip-Hop producer, J Dilla more than any other artist. His influence on urban and all alternative musics is staggering.”
Over the years, Steven has been a well respected ‘Gun For Hire’ around Glasgow, contributing his musical talents to several bands.
I am a multi-instrumentalist, but have a heavy slant towards guitars and drums. I guess most of the bands I’ve played with never really wanted to commit fully and it’s always been a case of not taking it too seriously.
“I play in Larmousse (City Slang) with Cliff Henderson and David Gow (Sons & Daughters), I’m recording an album with Steven Ward (Empire Builder), I play in Mandrake Shepherd who’ve just completed a 3 song Demo session at my house in the preperation for Studio Album.
“I’m rehearsing a new Band, tentatively called Mussel Memory, with two friends I’ve played with for years, Iban Perez (Tut Vu Vu, Sparkling Shadazz, Rags & Feathers) and Ben Ashton (L Casio Immunitas, Sparkling Shadazz) and we’re incredibly excited by the material we’ve garnered thus far. I’m preparing to release a split 10” and Download with fellow Glasgow Bedroom Savant, BLOOD BLOOD. We have a mutual appreciation for the processes we share and the slightly off-kilter side to each other’s songs.
“I’m also rehearsing a full band version of Pioneers Of Anaesthetc for some shows this Winter. The band will feature Paul Foley (Eva, Vaselines, Mandrake Shepherd), Gordon Farquar (Stapleton, Happy Particles), and Cliff Henderson (Larmousse).”
But all this other fruitful activity won’t mean a lessening of his creative work as Pioneers Of Anaesthetic.
“I am continuing my current exercise in high volumes of output. It’s what I call ‘Quantity Control’.
“The idea is that I limit myself to one hour to write and record each song. I feel that once an initial idea leaves your head, with every passing second - it’s being compromised and re-thought. I just want to try to minimize the interference I have with the imagination’s melody-writing process.
“Quite often, It makes me laugh out loud, as the stuff that comes out is nowhere near what I’d usually shape it into, but that’s got to be healthy.”
Here’s an incredibly generous and, truth be told, unconventional (hello Kate Bush !) look at the so-called genre known by some as Shoegaze. I personally can’t stand the term (yes I’m being sarcastic in my use of the word in the masthead here on DM) despite the fact that my early-mid 90’s band Medicine is often lumped in with it. But Mr. Ning Nong here has not only shown the excellent/highly questionable taste to lead off with Medicine but to also include many other possibly controversial, yet tasty choices. It would be churlish to complain when being presented with 3 bleedin’ hours of the stuff though, right ?
A fresh, sun-drenched Typecast from Boston mainstay Ning Nong, diving into the world of classic guitar rock and indie some of us are still so afraid of. Go on, dip your toe in – nobody’s watching I promise.
If you like this, check the Ning Nong Radio show on WZBC 90.3 Boston every Tuesday evening (10-12) for more epic musical voyages.
1. Medicine – One More (Creation)
2. Serena-Maneesh – Honeyjinx (4AD)
3. Slowdive – Morningrise (Creation)
4. Arab Strap – Last Orders (Chemikal Underground)
5. Yo La Tengo – Saturday (Matador)
6. Unrest – Imperial (Teen Beat)
7. Moose – Suzanne (Hut)
8. Altar Eagle – Spy Movie (Type)
9. His Name Is Alive – Lip (4AD)
10. Swirlies – Bell (Taang!)
11. Dinosaur Jr – In A Jar (sst)
12. Swervedriver – Duel (Creation)
13. The Verve – Drive You Home (Hut)
14. Blur – Resigned (Food)
15. Pale Saints – Kinky Love (4AD)
16. The House Of Love – Love In A Car (Creation)
17. Ride – Like A Daydream (Creation)
18. The Boo Radleys – Almost Nearly There (Creation)
19. Teenage Fanclub – Alcoholiday (Creation)
20. The Jesus & Mary Chain – Something I Can’t Have (Blanco Y Negro)
21. Interpol – Not Even Jail (Matador)
22. Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci – Where Does Yer Go Now? (Mantra)
23. Mogwai – Year 2000 Non-Compliant Cardia (Chemikal Underground)
24. Sunset – Man’s Heart Complaint (Autobus)
25. Flying Saucer Attack – In The Light Of Time (Domino)
26. Camera Obscura – My Maudlin Career (4AD)
27. My Bloody Valentine – Sometimes (Creation)
28. Swallow – Peekaboo (4AD)
29. Kate Bush – Cloudbusting (emi)
30. Tindersticks – Drunk Tank (This Way Up)
31. Bark Psychosis – All Different Things (Cheree)
32. David Sylvian – Let The Happiness In (Virgin)
33. Cocteau Twins – Ella Megalast Burls Forever (4AD)
Norway’s Serena-Maneesh is, in my semi-questionable opinion, one of the only neo-shoegaze/ noisepop/ whatever outfits worth listening to. They make wonderfully multi-layered records and are a force to be reckoned with live. Today their new LP No 2: Abyss in B Minor is released on the venerable label 4AD. Southern California music fans are encouraged to come out to see them tonight at the Troubadour. Your humble bloggist will be making a rare stage turn, dusting off my old Medicine gear and joining S-M onstage for a couple of numbers. Come say hello !