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My Bloody Valentine's Loveless (33 1/3) Paperback – January 10, 2007
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About the Author
Mike McGonigal has written about music and art since 1984, when he started the fanzine Chemical Imbalance. An occasional curator, sculptor and DJ, Mike edits the arts journal YETI and resides in Portland, Oregon. He really needs to get out more.
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The attempt at technical investigation of the music falls flat into a series of contradictions. He starts to discuss the mixing process in mono versus stereo and leaves it wide open with no real conclusions or actual analysis of the mix. He mentions that the band modified their guitars' tremolo arms, but he doesn't explore how or why. When he starts to talk about the effects used on the album, he starts by saying there were no modulation effects but then after this the details about the reverb, tremolo, and multi-amp effects are just glossed over. More than once I wondered if the band members were simply playing with him and feeding him misinformation.
The worst hipster flaw is when he drops the name of the "808 bass sampling keyboard (making) squelches". The Roland TR-808 is an all-analog (zero samples, no keyboard) drum machine, and the Roland TB-303 is the bass synth that squelches (but has no keyboard and definitely doesn't sample). How this got messed up so badly is anyone's guess, but it just underscores that this author shouldn't go near technical music topics with a ten foot pole.
Ultimately this book is a loosely coupled collection of quotes from the band and other books written about them, and the author either doesn't understand how to interpret them or is just too enamored with the album to offer anything but fawning praise. I was hoping for so much more.
I would definitely not recommend this book.
This awkwardly written book would be useless except for the fact that the author finally figured out he shouldn't rely on secondary sources and interviewed the actual members of the band to get the circumstances surrounding its creation. (Its not like trying to get an interview with the Pope or anything) For that reason alone, this book is of interest. It sets the record straight about how Kevin Shields recorded the album and why it took so long.
The rest of this kid's writing about the album is truly useless and embarrassing for myself being that I am of the same generation. His descriptions of the music are callow to say the least. He isn't able to remotely interest us in the album in the context of this life; hence, I don't care how close he is with his ex-girlfriends. And he doesn't really understand what separates this iconic album from mediocre albums from the same time period. Shields might as well have made the album using cheap tinny pedals. The author wouldn't know the difference. Loveless and the struggle to make it deserved way better than this.