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Slowdive 2-CD Compilation - Catch the Breeze.

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  • Jen
    Straight from Pitchfork: http://pitchforkmedia.com/record-reviews/s/slowdive/catch-the- breeze.shtml Slowdive Catch the Breeze [Sanctuary; 2004] Rating: 9.5
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 4, 2004
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      Straight from Pitchfork:

      Catch the Breeze
      [Sanctuary; 2004]
      Rating: 9.5
      Gosh does liking music make you feel prematurely old! Last winter,
      while browsing in a record store, I came across a compilation of
      shoegazer tracks, sitting there with all the finality of a collection
      of 60s garage. All of these bands with their echoes and their noise--
      even Blind Mr. Jones! A few racks over-- you know, by the deluxe
      anniversary editions of Pavement records-- I got shaky. Is this what
      we're doing now: Packing up the 90s for posterity? And why should
      finality be a grave? Some reappraisal is necessary, and when it comes
      to those shoegazers, that goes double. As popular as the whole scene
      was, too many people have spent too many years saying nothing more
      interesting about these bands than that they weren't quite as good as
      My Bloody Valentine. And of all the bands that were stuck with that
      claim, Slowdive is the one for whom it was the most damnably untrue.

      These days we all know that, in the end, Slowdive were hardly
      shoegazers at all. That didn't stop them from recording some of the
      classics of the genre, but still: There's something in this work--
      from the earliest singles to the beyond-rock of their last album--
      that's just singularly theirs, something that's made them as
      influential to today's electronic music artists (or, hell, to goths)
      as they have been for rock kids. Listening to Catch the Breeze--
      which comfortably abridges a three-album career onto two discs-- you
      get an immediate sense of why. Frontman Neil Halstead's songs have a
      narcotic languor to them, a quality that makes them sound like he's
      constantly on the verge of drifting off. But there's something about
      the deliberate haze of this stuff-- the layers of echoing guitar they
      wrap songs in, the way the vocals emerge as distant angel moans--
      that gives every word and chord a massive intensity. It's like
      watching film in slow motion: Everything goes watery-dreamy, but it
      also takes on a weight and a drama that can crush. And through every
      stage of their career, that's the heart of Slowdive. You're lulled
      into sleepy waves of melody, the hazy druggy beauty of it all, but
      just as you're drifting away, the whole thing squalls up into a big
      crushing storm or drops off into disorienting darkness. People try it
      with guitars and they try it with computers, and nobody does it quite
      like this.

      So three albums, two discs. The draw for longtime fans is a selection
      of tracks from the band's earliest singles. This was as close as they
      came to sounding like a conventional rock band-- albeit a huge, deep,
      and sleepy one, with Halstead and Rachel Goswell already crooning
      with lazy grace. By my count there are eight tracks here that aren't
      available on the band's three albums (assuming you have the expanded
      U.S. version of Souvlaki), including a Peel Session cover of Syd
      Barrett's "Golden Hair"-- convenient enough if you don't feel like
      hunting down 12-inches. The band's first LP, Just for a Day, is
      underrepresented here, most likely due to its occasionally fluffy,
      over-prettified production; instead, things leap straight on to the
      band's two classics, starting with 1993's Souvlaki. Owners of that
      U.S. edition will find 10 of its tracks included here, and with good
      reason. This album is, dare I say, every bit as good as Loveless, and
      just as singular. What's amazing about it is the way Halstead's
      exquisite pop songwriting comes so strongly to the forefront of the
      band's sound-- and meshes, magically, with an even greater sonic
      ambition. The result is the reason critics started calling
      things "dream-pop," and the best songs here-- "Alison" and "40 Days"--
      sound exactly like that: gorgeous traditional pop songs heard in
      blurry, dreamlike slow motion, sleepy and crushing at the same time.
      Even more ambitious are the tracks that stemmed from the band's
      collaboration with Brian Eno-- songs like "Sing" and "Souvlaki Space
      Station", which wash out into dubby groove and echo, with vocals
      pushed back into the role of instruments.

      Two years later, the band released something else entirely-- a
      collection of songs recorded mostly by Halstead, with a sound that
      left the rock-band format behind altogether. The past few years have
      seen a huge revival of interest in this kind of thing: The "lost
      generation" of bands-- Bark Psychosis, Disco Inferno, Seefeel-- for
      whom Simon Reynolds coined the term "post-rock." It's in those terms
      that Slowdive's last album, Pygmalion, has come to seem like the best
      thing Halstead has been involved with. The highlight, "Blue Skied an'
      Clear", is worth the price of any collection anyone sticks it on:
      It's one of the most achingly pretty things you'll ever hear, milking
      incredible pathos from a shuffling drum loop, sparkling touches of
      guitar, and a chorus of ghostly half-moaning vocals. "Crazy for You"
      goes even further, constructing another rush of sound and then
      building it up and breaking it down like dance music. Catch the
      Breeze nicks a full five songs from Pygmalion, an album only nine
      tracks long-- and for Americans, it's more than worth it: This LP can
      be criminally hard to find.

      And that's Slowdive, in a handy two-disc set, packed and packaged.
      There's a scent of finality about it. This, in most cases, will be
      all the Slowdive anyone needs. There's a quintessential Slowdive-
      listening experience: You lie in bed letting those waves of sound
      wash over you; you drift comfortably off into dreamworld, thinking of
      big pretty oceans; and then you wake up, minutes later, to find a big
      disorienting blur shooting out of your speakers-- so massive, so
      intensively vivid, or so dark and ominous, that you wonder how you
      could sleep to this at all. It's like taking a sleeping pill and
      waking up to find yourself frighteningly, alarmingly drugged-- an
      experience I wish, fondly, on everyone who brings this collection

      -Nitsuh Abebe, December 2nd, 2004
    • MarcCantone@aol.com
      Thanks for the heads up!!! I ve been obsessed with Slowdive for the last couple months. Perfect timing! Marc In a message dated 12/4/2004 7:26:54 P.M.
      Message 2 of 2 , Dec 4, 2004
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        Thanks for the heads up!!!
        I've been obsessed with Slowdive for the last couple months.  Perfect timing!
        In a message dated 12/4/2004 7:26:54 P.M. Pacific Standard Time, jdloc4@... writes:
        Straight from Pitchfork:
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