CAMDEN UNDERWORLD, LONDON
A CRITICISM that's been made of pop
journalism recently is that it seems to be far too quick to praise the mediocre, as a result of
which critical currency is devalued. One word that seems to slip all too readily off the pens of
the Maker posse is "revelation", as if each new sonic development is a sharp eye opener and a
strong contender for the future of music as we know it.
To up the stakes then, Chapterhouse are
full of revelations. A nicely understated fivepiece, they're very much business as usualsublimely
noisy guitars, vague, serene vocals, songs that rely on sound more than substance and don't
actually go anywhere. Yet it's their apparent lack of individuality that makes them so special.
Leaving the musical development and donkey work side of things to the likes of Ride, they're now
free to concentrate on sculpting the already familiar (and popular) sound into shapes that serve
So they discard actual melodies, shrug off the tendency to want to lose themselves
in noise, and refine the sound until it manages to project a poignant and well defined mood or
feeling. Many of their best moments occur when the guitars suddenly appear out of the ether and
plant a sharp image in your mind: death in Venice; mystery in Moscow; a picture of sombre romance.
And mare startling than the potency or even the sheer consistencyof these moods, is the ways that
they manage to be warming rather than purging.
Chapterhouse are all about blissing up rather than
opting out, about cerebral tantalisotion as opposed to mere eternal orgasm; definitely something
worth getting a little bit excited about. How many ways do I love them? Too many, too many...
Swervedriver, in contrast, are one great big adrenaline rush, a welcome return to the kinds of
noise that appeal to those glands that deal exclusively in pleasure. Much more of a primitive
experience, they are, contrary to popular belief, very much an English-sounding bond, although
their thrashy noise invariably provokes comparisons with all the usual transo~antic thrill
seekers. Swervedriver hew their melodies from the hills themselves. There's an extremely pure and
raw feet to the way they wield their melodies - the great slabs of noise lurching into each other in
the most elemental manner - and in the lethargic righteousness stakes Swerved river are certainly
head and shoulders above their attitude-obsessed peers. The point with this band isn't simply the
headlong rush or the elegant manner in which they craft feedback, it's the way they manage to
create an unholy row without kicking up too much of a fuss.
Swervedriver are convenience
sotisfaction, nirvana on a plate, and here at least is one exit that doesn't take you into the
unknown. They are, truly, a bucket full of revelations. But then you knew that anyway. . . Rave
Pic: Piers Allardyce
Originally Appeared in Melody Maker
Copyright © Melody Maker.