Hell, I could have picked almost anything from the back catalogue of this band. Albatross is the stand-out track of an outstanding 4 track EP (entitled Holding our Breath) from early ’90s shoegazers Slowdive. Bemoaned, decried and hated by Britain’s Britpop-loving press, Slowdive’s beautiful multi-layered sound has latterly found a kindred spirit in much lauded post-rockers Sigur Ros. So maybe they were right after all…
Back to Reading – and there is no stronger example of the Thames Valley sound than Albatross. Layer upon layer of minor chords – almost symphonic in their beauty – Albatross swells to a powerful crescendo of highly processed guitars. Non-believers should check out double A-sides Catch the Breeze and Shine. The fourth track on the rather grand EP is a cover of Syd Barrett's (former lead singer of Pink Floyd) Golden Hair. Utterly remarkable.
Surprised to see nothing by the Pet Shop Boys on Musical Taste. Now the only remaining intelligent British pop act, the Pet Shop Boys have consistently mixed dramtic chord changes with pathos-loaded lyrics. Being Boring is possibly their finest moment - reflective, sad and beautiful.
15 Mar 04 ·Mike: Totally agree re the worth of the PSBs output and the dramatic and very distinctive use of harmony therein. Several of their songs would be in my all-time favourites list if I ever made one.
In my humble opinion, the great Aphex Twin has never again hit the highs of 1992's Selected Ambient Works 85-92. In fits and starts he's got close - but he's never managed to compete with the work here. And Heliosphan is his masterpiece. With a rumbling bass acompaniment and trademark break-beats, Aphex sleighs the listener with 4 plus minutes of choral beauty. Get in!
Prior to Ian Curtis' death and the infamous but less interesting second album Closer, Joy Division released a whole bunch of fantastic songs. Atmosphere, She's Lost Control and Transmission (recently superbly covered by US minimalists Low) are all rightly loved - but the fragile wonder of Insight is almost always forgotten.
The song starts with sound of a lift going down - and the overall feel is lonely, desolate and claustrophobic. Insight stirs the soul and breaks your heart my friend. Mighty powerful stuff.
Cathy Dennis' music is predominantly rubbish. As UK residents know, she is now the writer behind much of the teeny crap that fills the top 40 singles chart every week. But When Dreams Turn to Dust shines like a beacon amongst a fog of blandness. I bought the single for 50 pence from a charity shop in 2000. I thought I'd paid too much. I was wrong.
I was out of work at the time and looking for a job. Dennis' masterpiece is the sound of those crazy job-search days - there was a good two week period when I listened to this song continually. Hard times economically - even tougher times on the turntable...
The song has a king of warped Beatles/Byrds quality. And an amazing minor chord chorus. To top it all, she shifts the whole chorus up an octave in the final eight or so bars and kills the listener with a repetitive and insistent refrain.
Convinced by its majesty, I then bought one of her dance albums from a car boot sale for £1. Never has money been so well intentionally spent and inevitably wasted.