The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Cover Story - Jim Car­roll

THE yarns which sur­round Love­less are many. La­bel boss Alan McGee has claimed that the record­ing bud­get bankrupted Cre­ation, and there have been in­creas­ingly hazy rec­ol­lec­tions by the dozens of en­gi­neers who came and went dur­ing the two-year process in an es­ti­mated 18 dif­fer­ent stu­dios. Love­less has be­come a leg­end as much as a rock album.

The facts are a lot sim­pler. It was My Bloody Valen­tine’s sec­ond album, the fol­low-up to 1988’s Isn’t Any­thing. They started record­ing it in 1989, took a break to tour in 1990 and fin­ished the album in 1991.

Since its re­lease, Love­less has be­come a land­mark record, lauded reg­u­larly and loudly as an album which, in so many ways, rein­vented the sound of dizzy gui­tars, white noise melodies and ethe­real har­monies.

When the band be­gan record­ing Love­less in a Lon­don stu­dio in Fe­bru­ary 1989, the la­bel thought it would take five days. By Septem­ber, they had moved stu­dios and started all over again. Alan McGee was un­happy to say the least, so band leader Kevin Shields barred him from the stu­dio. Record­ing con­tin­ued.

Shields ad­mit­ted to Mag­net mag­a­zine last year that he was “a bit of a tyrant” dur­ing those ses­sions. “I would just re­ally be strict. It got to the point where I lived with th­ese songs for more than a year, and the melodies were only in my head.”

He re­called in an­other in­ter­view how they spent their time dur­ing those months and years. “The vast ma­jor­ity of evenings we spent in bed while we were mak­ing the album. We started work at mid­night, went to bed in the morn­ing, not re­ally wak­ing up un­til 10 at night. When you do that for months and months, a year, years, you get pretty dis­ori­en­tated.

“But you see all the world events be­fore ev­ery­one else does be­cause you watch the morn­ing news on TV-AM. And you see ev­ery­thing three or four times.

“We got bom­barded by the Gulf War. The only thing that didn’t seem to fit in was the out­side world. Se­ri­ous world events were the only time gauge we had for what was go­ing on.”

But work was be­ing done. Shields ex­plained the ge­n­e­sis be­hind the album’s sound to Mag­net. “When mak­ing records, I got it into my head that some of the big no-nos were no echo, no re­verb, no cho­rus or flanger and no pan­ning. The one ef­fect I would use was this re­versed-re­verb ef­fect, which is very re­verb-y, all of th­ese things I was against, right?

“But the irony was that with th­ese ef­fects, you could ac­tu­ally play harder, and it sounded re­ally dif­fer­ent. If you played softer, the sound changed dra­mat­i­cally. I would work with a tremolo to get this other dy­namic and sud­denly had a lan­guage I could kind of ex­press my­self with, which I never re­ally had be­fore. I found a voice, and I could do it well.” What hap­pened next? Ac­claimed on its re­lease ( Melody Maker called it “the out­er­most, in­ner­most, ut­ter­most rock record of 1991”), Love­less peaked at num­ber 24 in the Bri­tish album charts. The band have not yet recorded a fol­low-up, but have re-formed and play the Elec­tric Pic­nic later this year.

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