In The Presence of Nothing
Slumberland Records and SPINArt
This debut release from a band comprised of members of other bands, each with their own direction and take on musical expression, forms more than a footnote in the shoegaze world that enveloped the nineties and naughties. That is until swept aside by post-rock and dream-pop after a long-lived and worthwhile stint in the spotlight. As the genre never really went away, Lily's remain one of the keystone compositional driving forces behind the shoegazing sound.
The band leader, and all round front-man, Kurt Heasley, adapts a guitar and vocal delivery around the musical musings of various others, bringing percussion and another guitar into the mix. A host of backing singers complete the set-up, leaving the game-field pretty open for what the album can produce. Links to the fresh sound in the early-work of My Bloody Valentine have been suggested, not just by fans but even hard-nosed music commentators have pointed it out. I'd say it's a compliment.
As far as the sound is developed, an organic and warm guitar is kept nicely reverberated and rhythmic as it hollers and jeers in various directions. There is a discordant quality which sounds like a mirror image of the grunge movement, however the snarly and angst laced subject matter is replaced with a dreamy and almost incoherent murmuring. Simple progression makes fat and wholesome riffs out of repetitive but tuneful sections. The manner of the sound comes across as consistent with Mercury Rev from the same era. There's a distance between the music and the listener which distorts and infuses the sound with all kinds of heady echoes.
An important part in the rock music world, it's a push away from the compositional and into the realms of psychedelia and jammed momentous escapades. It fits the bill for a light-hearted summer time splash, and also gives us something to sit back with as well. The lack of aesthetic quality is made up by an interesting line of thought behind the mastering. It makes good listening and still has enough guts to make a real noise in quite a few places.
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