Ear-Break Volume 1: Loveless – Fall Out of Love in the Early 90’s

Nick Kaniak

Discover the music that can impact and influence the electronic music scene from a whole different perspective.

Sometimes it’s important, nay, necessary to take a break from listening to the same genre all day long. In doing so, not only are you giving a mental break, but also expanding your horizons. This is particularly important when dealing with electronic music which, whether you like it or not, has constraining elements and usually the brilliance is found in the minor details and the nurture of other styles.

In this opportunity, I’ll give you the chance to discover (or rediscover) a compelling album which can add a lot of value to the current scene.

Picture this first scenario: It’s the 90s, the 80s are dead! Much of the hair metal bands are disbanded and the new heirs of the scene are some outcasts in thick lumberjack shirts. You might even think the cycle of 70s Progressive Rock to Punk happened again, but there is something different. The rebellion was against society itself and not the system.

This new dominating generation of frustrated rebels is melancholic and angry (not as their peers of the mid-70s). Their instrumentalization is more polished and even experimental.

If you haven’t deciphered it by now, I’m talking about the Grunge movement and its branches (if any).

As brief as this genre was, it definitely shook the scene and it had clear and well-defined leaders: Cobain, Corgan, Cornell, Laney, and Vedder.

Now picture this second scenario: The previous icons/ leaders cite the same record as being the best one recorded so far in that decade. A genius in its own right and playing in its own league . . . but this band was not cited nor renowned as the others. This record didn’t even deal with social problems or broken homes. Yet, it encompassed an overwhelming sensation of mourn, a sensation only surpassed by its hypnotic sonic texture. Published in 1991, I give you: Loveless by My Bloody Valentine.

Sure, now many purists would say: “ MBV…Grunge? No way!”

True, MBV is not grunge per se, its Shoegaze by definition, still it shares the same emotional and careless putrid elements. Common denominators that made the movement one of consideration and substance.

If you haven’t listened to this record, I’ll give you some data so as you to make a picture in your head:

• It took 3 years to make it.

• 19 recording studios.

• Many, MANY sound engineers.

• Legend has it, it required £ 250.000 and almost bankrupted the record label ( at least that’s what the promoters said, Kevin Shields disagrees).

Content-wise, the album has both lyrical and instrumental tracks. Each track manages to tell not only a story but also impart a feeling of melancholy, longing for that lost love and emotional survival. Unlike Grunge, Loveless manages to evade the daunting and cliche topics of the scene. Topics like daddy-issues, broken families, school brutality and social awkwardness are completely avoided. All being teenager clickbaits of secure success.

If I were to describe the album in one sentence I would say Loveless sounds like: “The laments of a heartbroken teenaged whale heard through a Telefunken tube Tv in a suburban area during a rainy day”. . . Long, I know, but it is, and it has always been complicated to pinpoint or tag it cause there’s nothing like it out there. A beast in its own nature, rotten but refined and sophisticated at the same time. Sad but buoyant. The more you listen to it, the more elements you can find within that cluttered mix of genius.

An interesting property I find quite fascinating is its anesthetic sensation when listening to it. This is achieved by broken distortions mangled with rhythmic whammy-bars that, when repeated in the right frequency, become the most hypnotic drones ever. This was the first time I understood distortion is not only a mindless beast that expresses discomfort & insurgency. It is also a weapon of choice to texturize the most enthralling landscapes. For some reason, I’ve always compared this record´s sonic persona to Van Halen’s early works. They’re a wall of dense substance, an explosion of sound, but altogether different. Loveless is is a personal letter to ourselves. An aimless Polaroid that reminds us of old gray days, and how alluring was it to be depressed once in a while.

So you might be wondering, as an electronic musician, where does this album fit in my agenda?

Well . . . let me tell you this: This eleven-track album is a fully fleshed muse for any artist.

The first element that comes as an obvious candidate to be replicated are the drones together with particular melodies that lack melodic resolution. This brings up the “eternal and hypnotic” flavor in any proper track. Key elements to any prog-house track of value.

Another relevant component that you might find interesting is its vocals. Soothing by its own nature can inspire countless melodies and arrangements. Now if you happen to think they are perfect as they are, a bootleg might be right up your alley. More than ever bootlegs of certain bands and artist have become more present than ever. Names as Björk, London Grammar, and The XX have become regular targets. The way I see it, MBV shares common factors that surely translate to any sophisticated dancefloor or radio show. You know… it’s free real estate.