12 February 2009
Moonshake - First EP
Year of Release: 1991
Sometimes when I'm rummaging around the flat for possible things to upload to this blog, my greasy little paws chance upon something I really should have considered a long, long time ago.
Moonshake really weren't everybody's particular cup of tea. Formed by David Callahan of The Wolfhounds after that band had decided its time was up, their fans must have been baffled by the sudden shift in approach. Whereas The Wolfhounds specialised in a fierce, brittle and politically charged kind of indie guitar pop, Moonshake were a mongralised meeting of electronica, dub, krautrock, and "shoegazing" indie dream-pop, whilst still retaining some of the old spittle of yore.
Curiously, this first EP slipped out on Creation Records, but for whatever reason (possibly the label's perilous financial state at the time) they opted not to stay there and shifted to Too Pure for their debut album "Eva Luna". Whilst that album had heavier basslines and a more noticeable identity of its own, this EP is admittedly far closer to the sonic experimentation of My Bloody Valentine. The loops shimmer, the beats thud along like a drunk rolling slowly down some stairs, and the vocals are buried deep in the mix. Suffice to say, it's impossible to feel indifferent to this - you will either think it's sheer bilge or really rather good.
The first track "Gravity" in particular manages to be hypnotic in a repetitive, krautrock way whilst also being tremendously dense with ideas, and whilst the "Eva Luna" album (which was a critical fave rave at the time, but is seldom if ever referenced now) had a more definite identity, there's a more pleasing subtlety to these tracks to my ears. You can start hurling your collection of "Indie Top 20" albums in my face if you must, but I honestly believe that "Coming" on side two of this EP shows more balls, innovation and downright unsettling surprises than anything the Slowdives of this world managed. There are unexpected shifts, atmospheres and lyrics which make you stop and pay attention - it's difficult to focus on anything else whilst this is playing. This is the sound of people with big, broad record collections and the creative talent to understand how to take the most effective ideas from each to create something bold and relatively unique.
That Moonshake have been largely forgotten about in the 21st Century whilst plenty of people seem to be falling over themselves to download a lot of inferior material from the early nineties is a deep shame. That I hadn't actually played them in years myself is something you should perhaps punish me for as well, although depriving myself of these noises for so long and for no good reason might possibly be punishment enough.
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