WHAT My Bloody Valentine - Glider EP
WHEN TJs, Newport - August 1989
It’s difficult to describe what hearing “Glider” was like the first time. Woozy, brutal, intimate, dislocated, catatonic - it just didn’t sound like anything else, then or now.
I was at their Reading Festival warm-up show at TJs in Newport in August 1989. It was a small, sweaty black box of a venue (sadly now lost to the sanitised world of property development) and my memory of it was like being inside a forge. They used a genuinely frightening amount of volume backed by an metronomic percussive brutality which probably did permanent damage to my hearing. It was like standing behind a jumbo jet that was taking off in your front room. It was also totally euphoric. They seemed to be grappling with the far edges of what you can achieve with volume and structure and "Loveless" was what emerged after the comically long recording process (2 years! 19 studios! It’s worth reading the Wikipedia description of the sessions to get a sense of how far off the reservation they wandered).
“Loveless” somehow manages to be completely tight but simultaneously totally out of focus. It often sounds like they’ve either played the master tape at the wrong speed or they’ve dubbed a couple of other songs on top of a finished track. It’s disorientating, experimental and unapologetically ambitious.
1991 did produce some albums which have stood the test of time - "Blue Lines", "Out of Time", "Spiderland", "Laughing Stock", "Still Feel Gone", "No Pocky for Kitty" - but "Loveless" still feels exceptional and futuristic.
(A note about the photo for those interested: it was made by using a self-timer, a long exposure, setting steel wool on fire and then spinning it around. Looks fantastic, isn't 100% safe. Probably should involve a friend and a fire extinguisher next time...)