Nature is not natural and can never be naturalized — Graham Harman

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

My Bloody Valentine in Denver

I talk about MBV, my favorite band, in Hyperobjects. Our trip to Denver was a chance to see them, having last seen them in 1992, good heavens. They played at the Ogden Theater.

They were, of course, incredible. Bilinda Butcher stood there, perfectly poised, with a smile, throughout the show, singing extraordinarily and playing guitar, rocking a pair of good high heels. She exuded the somewhat pro-feminist power that I associate, happily, with My Bloody Valentine and with other bands of that era such as Lush and Curve.

In the words of my friend Jeff (Suthers, big figure in the CO shoegazing scene), Kevin Shields gave the appearance of Einstein, surrounded by monitors with huge scraggly hair. In many ways this look was latent in his younger look, which made me smile.

He said all of two words (Belinda said none): "Hi" and, when an audience member yelled "Thank you!", "You too."

Debbie played extraordinary bass, rocking with Colm Ó Cíosóig, whose drum sequencing on the spectacular "Wonder 2" (from the new album, which just appeared one day recently, like a mushroom) was devastatingly good. He played guitar for that one. Pounding intensity, far more so than the album version. Drums should sometimes be a little bit demonic.

Like frogs in boiling water, we were slowly immersed in a bath of increasing volume levels.

And thus, inevitably, there was the rainbow hued void of "You Made Me Realise" with which the band closed out the night. It lasted, I believe, about ten minutes. If you have never heard it I advise you to listen to the EP, then imagine it live. I've seen people, and saw people that night, covering their ears with fright, running out, and in other states of disgust or panic. But like a Siren, the sound is very very beautiful as well as horrifying--an interesting edge for me as those of you who've been following this blog know well. You can't not hear it.

But if you want to retain your hearing, ear plugs are de rigeur. Shannon and Jeff (my friends) had them, we had them, and the band had them! Heaven help you if you had just taken them off and mislaid them before "You Made Me Realise."

And that mid section is by no means a sludgy symbol of hell in the manner of black metal or its Laruellian apologetics, though it is (at least) equally loud and intense as anything you might hear in Sunn O))). Something else is happening there, which I'm now writing about for a volume of essays on beauty. It is called "Beauty Is Death."

I shall inevitably write some more on MBV fairly soon.

1 comment:

Nick Guetti said...

Listening to excerpts of 1st 2 albums now, and it reminds me a lot of Hawkwind, but slightly less accessible to me. I found Hawkwind pretty inaccessible at first, though; once I got used to the "being thrown out of an airlock" feeling (which isn't about the whole "space rock" thing, but rather the a-traditional rootlessness of the music causing a kind of aesthetic vertigo), I grew to love them.

MBV, though, makes me feel not only vertiginous but also queasy and seasick. I think it's their use of slow vibrato, an effect I've never liked in any music (along with the ring modulator and chorus). On the other hand, there is a sweetness to their tone & melody that is undeniable.

Tim, how do you think their new album (which I can't find any of) relates to Loveless & Isn't Anything? Do you think I'd need more or less psychic dramamine?