Jude Rogers, kolumnis dari The Guardian menulis sebuah artikel menarik tentang hantu shoegazing yang kembali bergentayangan dan urusannya yang belumlah kelar setelah lebih dari satu dekade silam. Blak-blakan, apa adanya dan sesuatu banget :P Enjoy!
At the start of summer 2007 a supple, shimmery thread started darning itself through a long line of euphoric-sounding albums. From Maps to Blonde Redhead, Mahogany to Deerhunter, Asobi Seksu to Ulrich Schnauss, you could hear the heady, woozy influence of a style of music that had been a byword for naffness and overindulgence for the past 15 years; a type of music that Richey Edwards of the Manic Street Preachers had said he "hated more than Hitler". Names like nu-gaze, stargaze and shoetronica were used to describe it, names that couldn't quite hide the scene that dared not speak its name. For shoegazing was back - the sound of jangly indie fed through layers of distortion, overdrive and fuzz; of delicate souls turning themselves up to 11. In Summer 2007, bands, clubs, Mercury prize-nominated albums, films, and novels are all proud to claim it as an inspiration.
|Richey Edwards on shoegaze: "hated more than Hitler"|
Why shoegazing and why now? "Because it's time to be adventurous again - and it's time to reclaim the music from the term," says Nathaniel Cramp, the cheerful, bearded promoter of Sonic Cathedral, both a shoegazing club that travels around the UK, and a record label. The term is the first problem: it began life as it remains - a derogatory word coined by Food Records boss Andy Ross in 1990, co-opted by the NME to describe bands like Slowdive, Chapterhouse and Moose, who would stare at their pedals through their curtains of hair rather than engage with their fans when they played live. "It wasn't very fair," says Neil Halstead, formerly Slowdive's shy teenage frontman, and now the leader of country band Mojave 3. "The live shows were far from fey. They were about the energy of the experience, about sheer volume, and about taking a quantum leap. It's was about getting excited, getting stoned, but the same time it was about being geeky - something that wasn't rock'n'roll in any respect."
Groups like Ride and My Bloody Valentine were the big bands of shoegaze, and were fiercely anti-rock in their music and their outlook. "We didn't want to use the stage as a platform for ego, like the big bands of the time did, like U2 and Simple Minds," says Mark Gardener, then Ride's lead singer, and now a solo artist. "We presented ourselves as normal people, as a band who wanted their fans to think they could do that too." Ride managed to take this to another level in February 1992, having a top 10 hit with the eight-minute epic Leave Them All Behind.
|Ride, choosing to be normal people|
But 15 years later shoegazing has become hip again. Cramp thinks the soundtrack to Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation in late 2003 - curated by My Bloody Valentine's Kevin Shields - speeded its return, and his club's mission is to contextualise shoegazing in terms of its influences and inspirations. "You'll just as likely hear Syd Barrett and Ladytron as you will Swervedriver and Moose. It's music I know people in Ride T-shirts with fringes will like - although they're too old to have fringes now, they've receded too much - but also music younger people will find exciting too." He mentions one of Sonic Cathedral's latest signings, Kyte, a band of boys in their early 20s who'd never heard shoegazing records until Cramp played them some, and Manchester's Working for a Nuclear Free City, who came to shoegaze through the ambient music of Brian Eno.
James Chapman, the 28-year-old bedroom musician behind Mercury prize-nominated Maps, likes this idea of putting shoegazing into context. He was only dimly aware of it as a child. "To me, shoegazing is just a stage of psychedelic music. I hear late 1980s dance in the music of that time, but also a lot of the late 60s psychedelic folk scene." These influences were also flagged up by bands at the time: Shields said that dance music was the inspiration for his band's biggest album, Loveless, while Gardener and Halstead still love the Byrds, the Doors and the Velvet Underground. Chapman thinks psychedelic music of either the dance or rock kind is always exciting to experience live. "I want to make music and play music that has the same effect on someone as My Bloody Valentine had on me - making people want to join together and escape themselves."
Ulrich Schnauss, the 29-year-old DJ whose dreamy second album Goodbye came out in June, thinks this escapism is vital to shoegazing's appeal. He comes from the north German outpost of Kiel, a dull town that he saw as the equivalent of Reading, home to Halstead's Slowdive. "Too much music these days is about how bad these towns are, about everyday life, and all the dull details. Shoegazing is a way out of that - there's melancholy in it, but lots of heaven there too." He thinks people connect with dreamy music more in times of world crisis, and points out how psychedelic music has flourished during the wars in Vietnam and Iraq. "It's music that offers a much more profound way of trying to cope with a bad world, isn't it? Offering hope rather than breaking your guitar and shouting 'fuck you!'"
|Ulhrich Snauss, "i'm in heaven"|
Shoegazing is also spreading beyond the CD racks. Eric Green, a young film-maker from Los Angeles, is in post-production on a documentary about shoegazing and the music that preceded it called Beautiful Noise, in which he interviews fans of the genre, including Trent Reznor, the Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne and Billy Corgan. They were willing to talk, he says, because there wasn't a shoegazing backlash in America; the music was seen as part of an ongoing heritage of experimental rock, which fed into later genres like space-rock and post-rock. "But I decided not to use the word shoegazing in the film in case it upset anyone," he admits. "And because someone had said to me, 'The word "mafia" isn't in The Godfather, you know.' So I left it out."
First-time novelist James Buckley was braver, calling his book Celebrate Myself, after another mocking NME name for the original shoegazers, The Scene That Celebrates Itself. It tells the story of a self-righteous MBA student who's also into shoegazing music. "The business world and shoegazing both attract intelligent idealists," he says. "And a lot of those bands were university-based." He has met a lot of Ride fans in the City, and says he sees plenty of men from the trading floors at the back of gigs.
Still, images like these won't help change the minds of detractors. It doesn't help that Alan McGee, the man who signed Ride, My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive to Creation, is its most vehement critic. "Bloody nonsense. My Bloody Valentine were my comedy band. Ride were different - they were a rock band, really, a fantastic rock band - but My Bloody Valentine were a joke, my way of seeing how far I could push hype." Although he said Shields was a genius in the Guardian in 2004, he now says, unconvincingly, that the revival is just people still buying his lies.
|Alan McGee, "MBV were a joke!"|
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