My Bloody Valentine – Tremolo [EP]

My Bloody Valentine - Tremolo

Tremolo was the second of two extended-plays released during the prolonged recording sessions of My Bloody Valentine’s shoegaze masterpiece Loveless. In contrast to its sister – the  heavier Glider – Tremolo forsakes indie/alternative stylings for abstract composites of sound produced by instruments that just so happen to also make rock music. The title refers to lead guitarist/vocalist Kevin Shield’s “glide guitar method” of strumming while applying tremolo/vibrato pedal effects, which gave the band its signature surreal sound.

Leading off with Loveless‘s most ethereal cut “To Here Knows When,” this EP has little of the Isn’t Anything structured noise pop, instead opting for the dreamlike blur that typified the majority of My Bloody Valentine’s (albeit small) nineties output. “Swallow” features the hyper-processed flute-loop sound that prominently featured in “What You Want” from Loveless. It’s quite a bit lighter than anything on that album, with a much softer mix and a lack of heavy guitar reverb. “Honey Power” is the closest track to anything that was on Glider, featuring backwards-sampled guitar loops and a less abstruse song structure; those who enjoyed that release’s “Off Your Face” will enjoy this track. Closing the release is “Moon Song,” the only track on Tremolo to feature Shields’ voice with no processing or after-effect; it’s easily the most surreal track on the album, featuring kaleidoscopic guitar samples and a curious jungle beat that hints at the group’s interest in dance music toward the end of Loveless and prior to their 1997 break-up.

The most interesting aspect of Tremolo is the addition of three codas to the end of each track but “Moon Song,” all of which highlight the druggy, intimate atmosphere therein. Of particular note is the one on “To Here Knows When,” which is different (and better) than the final mix released on Loveless. These are not sloppy interludes tacked onto the end; they underscore the phantasmagorical experience that is listening to My Bloody Valentine’s nineties work, and their short length provides the illusion that the listener is transitioning between dreams.

Tremolo is not as sonically diverse as Glider, and it has a much muddier mix that obfuscates the tricks that Shields’ painstakingly put into its recording. The 2012 remasters featured on the compilation EPs 1988-1991 are of higher quality, and all but the most hardcore of My Bloody Valentine fans should listen to those rather than the original release. Whether or not these experiments have aged as well as Loveless and Glider is up to the individual listener. That being said, the tracks of Tremolo deserve a spot in any shoegaze fan’s library, and it makes for an intriguing listen for anyone who is excited by rock music as art.

1. To Here Knows When – (5:49) – ★★★★★
2. Swallow – (4:53) – ★★★★☆
3. Honey Power – (4:33) – ★★★☆☆
4. Moon Song – (3:26) – ★★★★☆

Overall: ★★★½☆

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