Friday, September 09, 2005

M83 / M83 / Rating 6.5

Time line curves back

"If anything, M83 is a good spot to give pause to later Loveless comparisons. Cynics term Gonzalez's shoegaze one-dimensional, but he's focused on stars and hearts, not his laces. The disembodied guitars of his later period do evoke Kevin Shields; M83's dream pop, though, is more redolent of mid-period MBV, especially Isn't Anything's "Soft As Snow (But Warm Inside)" minus the vocals, and here this sweaty-palm sensibility is clearest." PFM

What actually should be placed on an alter to Kevin Shields? Whammy bar? The Swirlies back catalog? A Fender Jag? A tremolo pedal?

I ask you this: what did the world of music do pre Kevin Shields??? I am pretty sure he doesn’t own sole rights to the sonic sound of guitars run through a fancy rack unit (the infamous Yamaha SPX90) but I swear from reading the last few years of music journalism, you wouldn’t know it.

I will be the first to give My Bloody Valentine credit for making groundbreaking songs and playing a very influential role in music over the past 10 years ( guitar styles, vocal attack, and album production) but come on; not EVERY band needs to put them on the top their thank you list.

My goal is to take the myth / legend of K.S. down a few notches. Let me introduce you to young Kevin.

Let’s start by taking a look at Kevin Shield’s early inspirations: He started playing guitar because of his love for the Ramones and his very first band The Complex covered songs by the Ramones and the Sex Pistols. Early MBV influences, as given by the band in various interviews are: Sonic Youth, Jesus and Mary Chain, Nick Cave, The Cramps, Cocteau Twins, Gang of Four, Joy Division, Siouxie and the Banchees, and The Virgin Prunes.

Mr. Superstar guitar player had his to say about his own guitar playing skills:

Buddyhead: How do you rate yourself as a guitar player to this day?
Kevin: Well, if you watch me, I barely even do that (holds hand in a barre chord shape again). I’ve never considered myself much of a guitarist. I always just wanted to be like Johnny Ramone. Just be really good at one thing. I think because I was never dexterous, and because I never really learned how to play a scale, or lead guitar, or anything, but because I still wanted to be expressive, that made me use the tremolo arm, which gave me something to work with for a long time.

So, to return back to the M83 review in PFM.

M83 in old interviews surrounding their debut release said these artists were their key musical influences: Tangerine Dream, Mogwai, Pink Floyd, Can, Nico, Ash Ra Tempel, Brian Eno, Neil Young , Sonic Youth, and cinematic scores of all kinds. ( Italian, French, German, American...)

M83 denies any influence by MBV when they first began.
“Actually we only started listening to MBV after our first record. We heard all these people saying how the music sounds similar so we checked them out.” Quote from

M83 repeats this sentiment in a PITCHFORK interview!

Don’t get me wrong, the PFM review of the M83 reissue is decent enough but I want to introduce readers to a life before and beyond MBV. The My Bloody Valentine reference comes up at least once a week as of late if not more so next time you come across it perhaps you will be reminded of a broader scope the writer is either ignorant of or too hesitant to mention. (IE: too obscure for the every day reader to get)

I will end this with just more quote which I think in the end is a nice reminder of the false ideas the press can help create and keep alive. There is nothing worse than a writer disguising his or her own opinions as fact.

Straight from the mouth of the hero himself ( 1997):

Question: How do you feel about the press saying that you created shoegaze or dreampop? Kevin: Don't blame us for what the press creates!