My Bloody Valentine: MBV

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Dan Bidikov, A&E Editor

While groups like Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails are (justifiably) lauded for innovation in the rock scene, one group in particular gets very little attention despite their enormous impact on modern music.  Elegantly using distortion and pitch changing techniques, My Bloody Valentine changed the game for rock music with their 1991 album Loveless.

My Bloody Valentine finally released a full studio album, titled m b v, twelve years after Loveless.  Many years later they are still revolutionary.   MBV is ambient, and entrancing, and subtly emotional.  The album builds worlds around its listeners.  Tracks like “New You” are extremely engaging–it’s not the kind of album to leave playing idly while you do yard work.

Feel free to use either headphones or speakers for MBV.  The carefully placed vocals in “If I Am” will not soothe and calm, but completely subdue the listener.

It is immediately clear that My Bloody Valentine plays by its own rules.  There is no immediately noticeable chord progression, and the album as a whole is unstructured.  There were no digital aids used in the making of MBV—everything was painstakingly created manually.  The effort involved in making the album is especially apparent in the track “Nothing Is,” a piece of music that shows the power of non-digital production.  A purposely repetitive, powerful rhythm blasts the ears for a full three and a half minutes.

Initially, it is easy to dismiss the song as a loop lazily thrown together on software.  Those that listen carefully are rewarded with tiny dynamic changes that shift the mood of the song throughout its run time.

The standout track on MBV is “Only Tomorrow,” a lengthy and powerful piece where the raw sound of distorted guitars lays the foundation for high pitched vocals and altered instrumental layers.  There is no clear buildup or climax, so instead of leading you and then taking you somewhere fast, it gradually puts you in a state of mind that no other music can.

Listeners are advised to experience the entire album in one shot.  The individual songs do not lack identity, but they are still best when viewed as a group.  The music is not catchy.  You cannot dance to it, or sing along.  Your only real option is to feel it.