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This review is from: Pygmalion (Audio CD)
For their final album Slowdive show themselves to be far more diverse than their indie rock contemporaries. Each of Slowdive's albums are unique and very different from one another: Just For A Day was a classic dream-pop album, that leans towards The Cure's Disintegration and the gentler side of the Cocteau Twins. Souvlaki was a more focused indie rock album, which showed the band to be stronger songwriters than any of their contemporaries in the shoegaze scene, as well as more being more experimental: the album had strong dub and ambient leanings, including a collaboration with Brian Eno on two tracks. Finally Pygmalion, the band's last album, shows Slowdive moving entirely beyond the conventions of dream pop and shoegaze and fully embracing ambient music and influences from contemporary electronic music.
Neil Halstead used delay and reverb to create an effect not unlike that of a sustain pedal on a piano. He coated the vocals with these effects to sustain each individual note so that they clash with adjacent melody notes to create a similar effect to a cluster chord, but without the harshness. These reverberations hang in the air, combining to create a textured, ambient sound, which is dense but, at the same time, much more sparse than the band's sound on their earlier albums. This kind of approach brings to mind artists like Steve Reich, Aphex Twin and Brian Eno much more so than indie rockers like Ride or The Boo Radleys.
This album is evidence that Slowdive were one of the most forward thinking and creative acts of the '90s. Even the band's closest contemporaries Seefeel and My Bloody Valentine sounded nothing like this. Pygmalion is one of the most original and essential album of the shoegaze movement.