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Friday, December 12, 2003
Somedisco links to a Worlds of Possibility post that says of Pluramon (who I have not heard):
This whole return-to-Loveless thing hasn’t really worked, it’s not as woozy as it should be, as destabilising, as confusing and riveting and downright head-swimmingly Psychedelic as Loveless was/is/will always be...
Well, geez, I'd never even considered that there was a MBV thing going on there, which I guess was stupid, given that whole Morr Music album that was all shoegaze covers thing. (Yeah, I could look up what it's actually called and what they were actually covering in order to appear smarter, but eh. I'm really only a fount of musical knowledge with the generous aid of Google and allmusic.) It just seemed, so, you know, Pet Sounds-y, although I suppose that's the context that all the US mags put the Manitoba album in, so maybe it just depends on your cultural heritage.
Still, how could any of this conceivably be called a heir to the MBV crown? First off, it's not melodic enough: there are a lot of nice bits in these sorts of albums, but it's missing the perfect flow and mix that MBV had: there's none of the great melodic lines that Shields et al were so good at.
But, more importantly, it's nowhere near as loud as MBV. For whatever reason, electronic artists have never been good at building intensity and energy in their tracks with guitar--whatever processing they do seems to smooth out the guitar so much, level it out and take away the bite, that you just can't rely on the six-string to create loudness in an electronic song. The power comes from basslines, but mainly drums: the great splatter-breaks of jungle and drum 'n' bass, the big loud kick of house, etc. But in MBV, of course, the drums were kind of buried in the mix, so if you're going for that model, you're way handicapped. Granted, the thing I really like about Manitoba is the drumming, especially the last track, but as is it comes off lacking, somehow. Pretty but too even. Not ecstatic like MBV.
Granted, MBV's reputation for loudness came mainly from their reportedly ear-blistering live shows, but you can hear it pretty clearly on Loveless, too: the guitars buzz and splinter and scream and decay, getting almost swallowed up by feedback. There's none of this in these artists' work. Maybe it's because so much of getting a guitar to sound good is in physical manipulation of the instrument and its components (Shields' "glide guitar" which worked a digital reverb pedal and the whammy bar on his guitar, coupled with distortion and calculated distance from and angle to the jacked-up amplifier) rather than in the way the raw sound is processed afterwards. But regardless, it'd be great to see these folks, who are admittedly very good at making the guitar sound pretty or fractured, make some noise, but for that I fear they'd need a real guitarist.