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holyrow

Holy Row!

SWERVEDRIVER/ CHAPTERHOUSE
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 their purpose.
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 down.
IAN WATSON

Pic: Piers Allardyce

Originally Appeared in Melody Maker Copyright © Melody Maker.


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