Various Artists: Still In A Dream: A Story Of Shoegaze 1988-1995

Herculean, five-disc compilation and mini-book.

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Both influencing and running concurrently with the development of post-rock, shoegaze informed the music of progressive artists as diverse as Oceansize, Deafheaven and Steven Wilson, and from the mid-2000s has enjoyed a resurgence.

When summarising the output of any scene or influential music style, there’s a fine line to tread between trotting out a superfluous greatest hits of the now ‘classic’ names and constructing an overwhelming encyclopaedia of obscure bands. Still In A Dream treads it very well. Though the mini-book of liner notes doesn’t cover the genre’s second wave, they do an incredible job of discussing the history of the scene, in terms of both the major and minor players. Neil Taylor’s engaging opening essay is a fantastic narrative on the genre’s development, though longtime shoegazers will probably know most of the major trivia points (if not the minutiae), reviews and tour dates that are diligently discussed. Particularly gratifying is the second essay, by Springhouse drummer Jack Rabid, on the experience of US shoegaze fans avidly devouring early Thames Valley bands like Ride and Swervedriver, before forming groups of their own. This brings a fresh perspective to an otherwise necessarily UK-centric story. No band features more than once across the five discs, so an impressive number are represented. Proto-shoegazers The Jesus and Mary Chain as well as scene associates The House of Love prop up the post-C86 period of the story, while also included are bands like Flying Saucer Attack and Bowery Electric, who were releasing records after shoegaze’s heyday. Notably absent, however, are My Bloody Valentine. But then, as this excellent package’s extensive liner notes rightly declare, even at that time they almost eclipsed their own scene.