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Ride – Nowhere

The sheer monstrosity of distraction in these early ’90s shoegaze albums can often drive you mad with omni-directional confusion.

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Ride - Nowhere

At first, they don’t mix very well — the sounds and visions coming from Ride’s Nowhere, that is — except with a surfy flavor that comes from ripping off the ’60s in a single bass riff.  But after a few minutes of deep, distracted listening, the similarities come from around the corner, swelling like the wave on the cover from a sudden expanse of sound.

That out-of-left-field psychedelia makes Nowhere a somewhat difficult record to write about; at every corner, a new aspect of its sound pops from out of  nowhere (*ahem*) and lends itself to a whole arsenal of tangential musings, but that’s also what makes this record a great exploratory experience.  Those bursts of feedback and slow-building explosions fuel an intense experience that starts in one place, ends in another and goes everywhere inbetween.  And that may sound like a given, but the sheer monstrosity of distraction in these early ’90s shoegaze albums can often drive you mad with omni-directional confusion.

Together here are the first and last tracks from Nowhere, “Seagull” and the title track.  When placed at opposite ends of the album, they’re like bookends, marking a “hello” and a “goodbye” from the band that covers a pretty broad spectrum of sounds within the album.  Between these two songs, Ride covers an impressively varied selection of flavors ranging from power-drummed anthems to chiming string-laden lullabies, each with a sound that carefully treads the line between distinctive and homogenous.  In listening to these two tracks back-to-back, the band’s intensely split personality comes to light.

“Seagull” rings out its bouncy bassline and reversed guitars like it was a forgotten gem of the post-Merseybeat era, but even with its feedback-drenched solos and noisy rhythm section, it never ceases to live out a certain light and airy aura, driving forwards constantly like a crazed motorist.  It culminates in a pummeling crescendo that never lets the catchy melodies rest.

“Nowhere”, on the other hand, uses those same tools to churn out a rumbling, moody brood-fest, completely devoid of hooks (or even riffs) and sung like Gregorian nightmare fodder.  Behind the main instruments, a turbulent storm swirls around restlessly, never finding itself a home (or a cheerful note), and ultimately ends quite unlike the lead track: in a festering fade-to-black, as unsettling and unsatisfying as an album end ever was.  Whether cresting and crushing, or churning and swirling, it all comes from out of nowhere and ends in the same place.

Artist: Ride
Album: Nowhere
Year: 1990
Tracklist & Review (Allmusic)

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