Perfect Sound Forever

band photo


by Joe McGlinchey (January 1996)

It was on one late December evening in 1991 that I received my first exposure to the band My Bloody Valentine. A friend and I were watching television and flipping through various channels. We finally settled on what I believe was MTV's "120 Minutes" program. For most of the videos we saw, we weren't terribly impressed. But throughout the My Bloody Valentine video, we didn't say a word. We just sat and listened. After the video, my friend managed to state, "Wow! That was very good!" I didn't think about them for the next month and a half.

In February, back at school in Boston, I made one of my usual excursions into Tower Records. By this time, I could barely remember the name of the band. I merely thought of them as "that blissed-out band with vocals but no lyrics". I picked up their latest release, "Loveless", brought it home, and popped in my roommate's CD player. I remember that by the time I reached track #3 (a short, bizarre instrumental entitled "Touched"), my roommate, all the while in the same room, frowned and said, "What the fuck is this whale music?" I took this as a promising sign, since his musical inclinations leaned more towards the greatest hits of Night Ranger, R.E.O. Speedwagon, and Roxette. This is known in testing as good construct validity.

As I listened to "Loveless" more and more, I came to know and appreciate each track as discrete and accomodating. This feat is hard to accomplish nowadays in the music business, and is seldom attained by most of today's "artists", in my opinion. The range of emotions conveyed and the level of identity in each track was quite impressive to me, and as I sit here listening to it now exactly four years later, "Loveless" has lost little of its initial magic. "To Here Knows When" gives the impression of being hugged by a friendly swarm of bees, and "Sometimes" sounds like being bathed in golden lights. Other songs sound eerie ("I Only Said") or almost mystical ("Soon"). My favorite song on the album, however, is "Blown a Wish". It contains an interesting vocal loop effect, and the closing voice of Bilinda Butcher is both melancholic and beautiful in its sadness.

I have since heard other MBV EPs and Cds (most notably, "Tremolo," "Glider," and "Isn't Anything"). While none have had quite the same impact on me as "Loveless", these nonethless contain a number of great songs as well. I also saw the band live, opening up for Dinosaur Jr. (a band I must admit to not caring for too deeply), on March 3, 1992 at Avalon on Lansdowne St. in Boston. I was quite pleased with their performance. My friend, who initially saw the band with me on television that night, has since, based on my recommendation, purchased and enjoyed "Loveless".

Apparently, the band has also had a group of loyal followers in within the music industry. Brian Eno cited them as a considerable influence. I suspect the converse is probably also true. Listen to the title track of Eno's first solo album "Here Comes the Warm Jets"; it's very much a My Bloody Valentine song, in spirit if not in the flesh. Also noted is their influence on Billy Corgan, who recruited the engineer of "Loveless", Alan Moulder, for the latest Smashing Pumpkins album.

My Bloody Valentine is a band that provided a little warmth in, what were for me, particularly unhappy times (the rest of that period of my life was, unfortunately, quite bleak), and for that I am particularly grateful. I am not concerned with whether or not they are able to make another good album, or if they become vastly popular and dubbed "sell-outs" by people who don't wish to share their wonderful music. I am merely happy just to have capitalized, with an open ear, on the initial moments of experiencing the considerable melodies of their silent voice, and the eloquence contained in their music. This particular moment of concordance, between ear and music, becomes increasingly lacking in an industry caught in the mires of musical stagnation and creative deprivation. We should all, therefore, come to chersih these rare moments when they enter into our life experiences, and to subsequently look upon with hope the inexpressible joy offered to us through music.

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