RIDE – ” Nowhere ” Classic Album Released 15th October 1990.

Posted: October 17, 2018 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

On this day in 1990, Oxford, England shoegazers Ride unleashed their debut album, “Nowhere”, at the height of shoegaze, and it still stands up as one of the genre’s defining works.  The word “shoegaze”  became one of my favorite musical styles. Nowhere” is the debut album by Ride, released 15th October 1990. Rolling Stone called the album “a masterpiece”,one of [shoegazing’s] enduring moments”. Ride had released three EPs, Ride, Play, and Fall, prior to the release of “Nowhere”  .

Before the ear-splitting beauty of My Bloody Valentine, the sugary noise-pop of The Jesus and Mary Chain or the washed-out soundscapes of Slowdive,

“Vapour Trail,” though this string-filled ballad wasn’t quite full-on shoegaze like the remainder of the record, its swirling, transcendent energy and chiming 12-string guitars left me wanting more. I previously knew of the band’s co-lead singer and guitarist Andy Bell as the bassist in Oasis, but after I heard him sing on “Vapour Trail” with soft-hearted conviction, At the time theybecame my new favorite band—Ride.

The opening track, “Seagull,” I was met by a guitar assault, an unrelenting drone-like groove, breakneck drums and the harmonized co-lead vocals of Mark Gardener and Bell. Sure,  This LP made me completely rethink the capabilities of musical transcendence.

I’d been exposed to uplifting romanticism and isolating sadness colliding in the same song before with artists like The Smiths and The Cure, but never with such extreme poles as Ride. On the eight tracks of “Nowhere”, Ride fired a distorted wash of piercing guitars, Loz Colbert’s vigorous percussion, bassist Steve Queralt’s clamoring melodies and Gardener and Bell’s angelic vocal harmonies. Songs shift from the soft wisp of “Dreams Burn Down” and “Vapour Trail” to the chugging chaos of “Decay” and “Kaleidoscope,” but more often than not, they incorporate both delicate allure and fierce annihilation within the same song.

Ride are a musical contradiction, and the best shoegaze music excels at contradiction. One of the things that kept pulling me back to Ride’s “Nowhere” and the rest of their discography and separated them from other shoegaze bands I love—was their refusal to obscure their harmonious vocals. If you were to transcribe the lyrics of bands like Cocteau Twins or My Bloody Valentine, you’d probably get a different set of words with each attempt due to their washed out sound mix. But with Ride, they preserved their distorted onslaught of instrumentals while allowing their shimmery pop vocals a la The Byrds or Teenage Fanclub to remain fully audible. Its opening cut, “Seagull,” is a stunning exploration of strung-out guitar notes and elongated vocal textures; a mission statement, for what would be one of shoegaze’s most pristine moments. “Definitions confine thoughts, they are a myth” Mark Gardener muses, The Songs like “Seagull” and “Polar Bear” display the perfect fusion of Gardener and Bell’s vocals with their discernible Oxford tongue and even those turned off by their wall of sound would admit to being charmed by their vocal match made in heaven.

The discourse around shoegaze seems mostly to be structured around a Holy Trinity dynamic, with Slowdive, Ride and My Bloody Valentine making up the trio of essential bands within the genre. Ride, though, were never quite as exclusive to reverb and hushed vocals as the other two, tailing off into Britpop, the total opposite of shoegaze, territory far too often to be considered their greatest. “Nowhere”, though, was arguably the highlight of their discography—a cohesively immersive, stunningly crafted shoegaze coup.

For a brief moment in 1990, Ride defied definition—crafting one of the most mind-bending and utterly stunning records of the era. Leaving “Nowhere” out of any record collection is totally inexcusable.

I’ve since come to know and love the overwhelming disarray of My Bloody Valentine, the hypnotic spirituality of early Verve, the sprightly, quiet firestorm of Lush and the intricate shoegaze-pop of DIIV, but it all began with Ride’s Nowhere. I’m not sure I would be able to come to grips with the harsh underbelly of bands like those along with the ambient work of Grouper or the atmospheric dream-pop of Galaxie 500 if it weren’t for the noisy, divine abyss of shoegaze via Ride’s Nowhere. I view Ride and Nowhere as the essential connecting tissue between the jangle pop of The Stone Roses, the dream-pop of The Ocean Blue, the discordant haze of My Bloody Valentine and the machine-like krautrock of Toy.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.