…and no, I’m not writing about celebrity junkie Amy Winohouse. The three tracks featured today have a connection, tortuously worked out though it may be.
Slowdive, from Reading, claim they did not take their name from the Siouxsie and The Banshees song, but rather from a dream experienced by bassist Nick Chaplin. Listening to their music is like being immersed in a warm bath with dashes of Smiths, My Bloody Valentine, the Cocteau Twins and Ride (since they had signed to Creation, hardly unexpected). However, the band forged a unique atmosphere and imbued their songs with moving and thrilling layers of sound that draw you in. Neil Halstead was a prolific guy, and penned all the tracks on their debut platter, Just For A Day, whence came an article of rare, dreamy beauty, Catch The Breeze (FF 1991 #20).
By the time Chapterhouse came along, with a year of rehearsal and gigging behind them, they had nearly missed the boat. Having performed alongside Spacemen 3, they were subsequently pigeonholed as a shoegazing band, just as Slowdive were:
What does any band think of the term shoegazing? I think at this point it’s like water off a duck’s back. I’m so used to hearing it. At the time it was really annoying, a press label. Our excuse was, is that we have so many effects pedals that we have to look down. A majority of the bands that were tacked in with that had the same amount of effects pedals, it was very much the sound. Now I really don’t mind, whatever. [Rachel Goswell]
The UK music press, ever fickle and looking for the next train to hitch their camels to, was into the garage punk scene by the early nineties, and was losing interest. Nonetheless, the band had their moment with the arresting single Pearl (FF 1991 #33), featuring vocals by none other than Rachel Goswell of…Slowdive. They had the misfortune to have their next album withdrawn over legal complications, and were reduced to issuing a compilation LP before 1995 saw the inevitable split.
Fast forward to 2003, and Mike Lindsay has a dream:
Back in 2003, [he] had a studio in a Soho basement below a clothes shop. Mike had been playing about with studio tech, making electronica and trying to make a living producing advert music, when he met Sam Genders, who was a bit of a singer-songwriter, used to doing pub gigs by himself. They had to go through the changing room to get down to the studio, then couldn’t get back out while the shop was open in case they startled naked ladies on their way out. Stuck down there, they found that Mike’s distinctive way with twinkling sounds and tight production enhanced the folky songs they were both writing no end, and a signature sound developed. [Taken from here]
They subsequently spent a year putting the first album together (sound familiar?), and a signing to the Static Caravan label resulted in Mother’s Daughter And Other Songs. The record contains a fair number of standout tracks, but the one that tickled the fancy of Peel’s listeners was Tale From Black (FF 2004 #37) which had already been released as a limited edition single. It’s a gripping piece of folksy electronica, with ambiguous lyrics about a girl who imagines herself to be a lot of things, including an authoress and a murderess. And where is the connection with the other two bands, I hear you cry? Why, in Ashley Bates, former drummer with Chapterhouse. As I always say, what goes around comes around. Eventually.