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Lovesliescrushing, "Bloweyelashwish"

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cover imageReleased on Projekt back in 1993, Lovesliescrushing’s debut remains one of the great underappreciated shoegaze albums of all time, as Scott Cortez and Melissa Arpin took the deliciously warped guitars of My Bloody Valentine and stripped away all the rock elements to leave only a churning ocean of fuzzed-out bliss.  With their later albums, the duo smoothed out their rough edges a bit and became a bit more focused on crafting more structured songs, but the more frayed and experimental nature of Bloweyelashwish has made it an enduring favorite of mine.  In a perfect and just world, Scott Cortez would be a fixture in any conversation about the most inventive and compelling guitar stylists of the last two decades and this album would be held up as the irrefutable evidence of that.

Projekt

The sequencing of Bloweyelashwish is quite unusual, thoughtful, and effective, as the album's more substantial pieces are interspersed with brief music box-like vignettes of chiming harmonics.  Those gorgeous interludes, such as "Butterfly" and "Teardrop," tend to last barely a minute each and occur roughly every other song.  Within that loose format, however, the interludes can be quite varied and unpredictable, both in length and aesthetic.  For example, "Fur" twists that formula into something that resembles strangled and warbling feedback, as if Cortez took one of his fragile and pretty motifs and fed it into a ring modulator to transform it into a gnarled and shrill grotesquerie of itself.  Elsewhere, the gauzy shimmer of "Plume" unexpectedly erupts into a roiling reverie of languorous, breathy vocals and sizzling guitar noise.  Despite being one of the shorter pieces, "Plume" has much more in common with the album’s more fully formed pieces, as they similarly tend to feel like a dam just burst to unleash a hallucinatory and churning torrent of lushly layered and beautiful noise.  Curiously, both the long and short pieces are equally likely feature the duo’s finest work, as I get the sense that Cortez had been building up a vast backlog of four-track experiments for years and only had time to turn some of them into real songs.  Rather than save all those great ideas for the next album, he poured them all into this one to weave a beguiling and kaleidoscopic dreamscape of glimmering, snarling, and shivering bliss.  As such, Bloweyelashwish is a dazzling cascade of highlights with the only real caveat being that some of them end far too soon for my liking.

That said, I do have a handful of favorites, some of which hit me the first time I ever heard the album and some which slowly crept up on me over the years.  My current favorite, "Darkglassdolleyes," falls into the latter category.  In many ways, it is a relatively characteristic piece, as Arpin’s swooning, reverb-swathed vocal melody floats over a slow-moving progression of quavering, hissing, and roiling chords, but it unexpectedly transforms into something far more messy and blown-out sounding around the halfway point.  As the song sputters and rumbles along in that newly ravaged state, an insistently repeating feedback motif appears that sounds like a haunted amplifier desperately trying to communicate with the physical world.  It is quite a striking and otherworldly bit of guitar sorcery.  The closing "Halo" achieves a similar feat, as a churning bed of drones births a heavenly nimbus of seesawing feedback warble.  Elsewhere, "Charm" is an absolute stunner, as a deep, warm fog of heavenly vocals and glistening guitars is repeatedly torn apart by grinding squalls of noise.  On a more modest scale, the simple and brief "Glimmer" is a gorgeously dreamlike haze of pulsing, seesawing guitars and floating, angelic vocals.  There are also a few songs that feel like would-be singles, such as the droningly lovely and vocal-centered "Youreyesimmaculate" and the opening "Babysbreath," which gushes from the speakers like a choir of angels awash in a warm sea of swirling and sputtering hiss and distortion.  Unusually for the album, "Babysbreath" even has a hook of sorts, as an odd, descending synth-like melody repeatedly bursts through its hymn-like haze.

The only arguable misstep on the album occurs when Cortez takes over the vocal duties on "Iwantyou," a piece that is also unique for being kind of a fitfully rumbling and rhythmic assault rather than a densely immersive fog of warmth and beauty.  Both the (subdued) violence of the guitars and the plaintive edge of Cortez’s voice feel out of place, unintentionally illustrating the crucial role that Arpin plays in the duo's aesthetic.  It is all too easy to take her contributions for granted, as her vocals are basically blurred and processed to the point where they almost feel like just another layer of instrumentation, yet they provide both an essential counterbalance and a foundation for Cortez's guitar wizardry.  There is probably something wise and insightful that could be said about Lovesliescrushing's seamlessly blending of male and female energies, but it is just as accurate to say that Arpin's simple and pure melodies are the unbroken thread that holds the album together and gives it its tenderness and human warmth.  The obvious metaphor is that of a Siren luring me through a deep fog, but that does not quite fit, as it is clear that there is no malevolent undercurrent in Arpin's lovely, floating vocals.  Instead, it would be far more apt to say that she is akin to an angelic voice guiding me towards the white light as a hallucinatory landscape erupts, crumbles, and transforms all around me.  In short, Bloweyelashwish is an absolutely beautiful album.  That was not necessarily what drew me into it in the first place, as I could listen to gnarled guitar experimentation all day, but the elegant arc, deep beauty, and enveloping vision of the album certainly makes it one that only grows more compelling with repeated listens.

Samples can be found here.
Last Updated on Monday, 20 August 2018 08:05  


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