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Slowdive

Named after a word in one of Nick Chaplin's dreams -- not from a Siouxsie and the Banshees single -- Slowdive formed in Reading, England, in late 1989. The group originally consisted of Neil Halstead (guitar/vocals), Rachel Goswell (guitar/vocals), Christian Savill (guitar), Adrian Sell (drums), and Chaplin (bass). Formed when they were mostly in their teens, Slowdive was initially lumped in with the remainder of the early-'90s British shoegaze scene; Slowdive's later releases extended upon the likes of the Cocteau Twins and the more atmospheric sides of post-punk, and they closed out their career with an excellent and misunderstood ambient LP.

Signing with Creation, Slowdive's early singles received glowing press and chart placement. Their debut single, Slowdive, thinly veiled an indebtedness to the Byrds and My Bloody Valentine, with no traceable punk influence. (In fact, they were probably amongst the first batch of young rock bands to ignore the movement.) Just after Slowdive's recording, Sell left for university. Neil Carter subbed for less than a year, lending his skills to the follow-up single, Morningrise; former Charlottes member Simon Scott hopped on board prior to the band's third single, Holding Our Breath. The sleepy escapist psychedelia of both Morningrise and Holding Our Breath made significant impressions on the British indie chart. The press dubbed them part of "The Scene That Celebrates Itself" -- a small, loose, conglomerate of like-minded bands who could be seen at each other's shows, frequently hanging out together within the same circle. This "scene" included Lush, Moose, Swervedriver, Curve, and Blur. Not associating with themselves as a move of self-importance, grandstanding, or high society, it was merely a means for those involved to get into shows for free. Most of those involved were university dropouts on the dole. A dastardly move by the press, the tag just made it easier for them to lasso a group of bands into the to-be-expected derision. With the Brit-pop trend close behind, they could cast aside their champs of yesterday with one fell swoop.

Slowdive's debut LP, Just for a Day, was released in September of 1991. Though it placed in the Top Ten of the indie chart, the press backlash was beginning to surface -- shoegaze was beginning to fall out of favor, and when bands put out a full-length, it's typically an ideal time for the British press to decide you're no good. Regardless, it was a fine debut. Months later, the Blue Day compilation appeared on the racks. It combined the bands first three singles, leaving off their version of Syd Barrett's "Golden Hair" and the instrumental version of "Avalyn."

The band's sound tightened for Souvlaki (named from a favorite Jerky Boys skit), released in mid-1993. (Initial copies included Blue Day as a second disc.) With assistance from Brian Eno on a couple tracks and an excellent mixing job from Ed Buller, it was a marked improvement from their earlier material. It wandered less, but didn't sacrifice their sense of woozy atmosphere for it. Troubles with U.S. label SBK prevented Souvlaki from being released anywhere near it's U.K. street date and U.S. dates with Catherine Wheel that had been intended to promote Souvlaki proved to be another incident of bad timing; at that point, they were playing in a country where their record wouldn't be available for months. Souvlaki was finally released eight full months later in the U.S.; SBK tacked on four bonus tracks, including 3/4ths of the 5 EP. By this time, Scott had amicably parted, leaving to cater to his jazz instincts in Foxy Brown. (He would later join Inner Sleeve.) Ex-Mermaid Ian McCutcheon signed on.

SBK had been shafting Slowdive from the get-go. Their marketing scheme for Souvlaki will undoubtedly go down in industry history as one of the laziest ever. The band's mailing list was sent a flyer announcing the release date. Anyone who made 50 copies of the flyer, posted them around their town, and photographed them would win a copy of the record. The label obviously hadn't considered that this would be a more costly venture (and quite time consuming) than buying Souvlaki, a disc they had probably purchased on import eight months prior at an exorbitant enough price.

Botching numerous U.S. tours and decimating the itineraries at Spinal Tap-like levels, the gaffes culminated with SBK pulling financial support from of a Souvlaki support tour. Determined to not screw their U.S. fans over, they funded a two week tour on their own. The band sold a live tape to help pay their way and also put together a tour program that included a blurb about their beloved American label. Despite poor exposure in the States, the band had cultivated a sizeable following through word of mouth and short tours with the aforementioned and Ride.

The band's third and final studio outing was released in 1995. Pygmalion was essentially a solo ambient record by Halstead; the only detectable contributions were courtesy of Goswell's vocals and occasional patterns from McCutcheon. Within a couple weeks of release, Creation dropped the band. SBK had since given them the boot as well, but their U.K. label had been expecting a song-based affair. Slowdive had clearly turned into something separate from what they had been signed as. Taken further than the intelligent techno slant of the 5 EP, the record was often beatless. Unhappy with this shift, Chaplin and Savill left during the recording. The remaining members continued as Mojave 3, signed by 4AD on the strength of a demo that basically became their stellar debut LP. ~ Andy Kellman, Rovi
full bio

Comments

Musical gem of past generations. . .
exquisite_so l a c e
Finally will get to see them live in November! So very looking forward to it.
a lost treasure in the past eras when music was real and original
Why does it say the 1995 album was their last and then there is a 2004 album listed?
yybbu
I preface this saying I like Slowdive and a lot of the shoegaze bands music;maybe because it echos back to some of my favorite musicians ei. Nico, Pere Ubu, and Lou reed.The 90's bands may have a bit more gloss but under it is the same ennui; you can't be disappointed if you don't expect much' The freeing flying lightness of the last waking drops leaving well slit wrists. Exqusite - solace indeed. Ya gotta love it.
exquisite_so l a c e
Slowdive reunion..fin a l l y . Would be great if they tour in the US.
Wooooo! Go cellos!!!!
Good music to cry to..
Ride is good but its not Slowdive. Slowdive is a much better shogaze band than Ride.
@joshie: It makes me want to live as long as I can. But everyone's different.
I agree that Ride shouldn't be overlooked. But is this true? Are they being overlooked. I agree though. In retrospect, Ride stands out in the genre. It's amazing how people who love this music remember the time. It brings back a feeling. Early nineties was magical but a sense of darker times ahead. It's in this music.
They mentioned Ride in this article...br i e f l y . . .
Ride is GREATLY ignored in this genre, yet they owned the sound on their first few albums, before they thought they were the Byrds in later albums...bar f . . .
joshie363
Makes me want to off myself.
Why is Pandora so determined to ignore Ride? I assumed they didn't play their music because of contract disputes, but not even to mention them in the context of Shoegaze music? It doesn't make sense.
jmiku
I've listened to Souvlaki endlessly since it came out...just wonderful music for chilling out...writin g to...etc. one of my all time fav CDs ever.
After reading this Bio I can understand why I hadn't heard of them. Glad they showed up on my station!
kschaber6
Ethereal, Other worldly, A transient flow of emotion or energy
I like it!!!!
nightfalling f a s t
Slowdive for me is a slow dive into inner space. A quiet calm. Good for thinking or smooching.
I saw slowdive open for Catherine Wheel in Tempe Arizona along time ago. I could not believe how amazing both bands were! I remember driving through the 4 corners of Arizona going to Denver at 3am in the darkened night with just the moon and stars providing light out on the desolate highway road. listening to the album Pygmalion and it never made sense to me before but it hit me that night how amazing the album is.
Slowdive's music is meant for your outer space adventure! I am always in orbit when I hear Slowdive. Out in space there is no gravity! just a slow groove and vibe! That's Slowdive!
briweav
I like turtles!!!
Acquired this album by chance a few years ago, really like. Will have to listen to some of their other albums.
one of my favorite bands of all time
larrykangas
I like them. Great sound.
I enjoy listening to them, their sound is so smooth.
I saw them opening for Ride in a small venue in Omaha, Nebraska of all places! Good music, good volume, good view. This is when I fell in love with Rachel...
Great band. I missed them opening for Ride in 1991 because I was fighting with my girlfriend and she ended up not going to the show with me. Oddly enough, we didn't make it.
kazwhomp
Agree, longfade- have you heard The Meeting Places? Same thing but with a male vocalist. Ah well, at least they're not copying Springsteen. Ugh who needs more of him?
Yeah, this stuff is not bad at all but it gets on my nerves when one band just outright copies another. In this case the Cocteau Twins guitar tone emulation is just way too obvious. But I love the Cocteau Twins so this is still a fairly pleasant listen. I just hate rip-offs.
I listen to Slowdive every evening before I go to sleep, the music is very sensuous, I never tire of them. It's perfect music to be with your mate. Wish they were still together making excellent music for their fans. I love it!
sharpless
Slowdive can be enjoyed all day long. I need My Bloody Valentine in controlled bursts for maximum imprinting, but fill the between with Slowdive and Cocteau Twins to transport off-world.
foreverforwa r d s
swirls surround, sounds superimposed , treasure to cherish.....
love the guitars
Hmmm...will the REAL Kevin Shields please stand up?
also recommendabl e : the for carnation.
this is really good. never heard them before today.
i luv slow drive wish they where still together
brentfinnega n 3
Slowdive. So relaxing. Like ice tea in the shade on a warm summer day.
mmmmmmmmmmmm m m m m m
Can't say I ever heard of them before.
My loss.
They're not bad at all.
Quite nice echo-caverno u s music at it's best!
Slowdive is my favorite Shoegaze band. They are one the original innovators of melodic, ethereal, and extra-dimens i o n a l music. Rachel Goswell's voice carries you to a mystical place of peace and relaxed movement.
gili47
Great etherial music; very moody; intrinsic; spatially interdimensi o n a l ; concentrativ e involvement; relaxing; thought provoking.
james.skylar
I just caught this listening to a "Sigur Roos" station...th e s e guys are really good

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