photo & text by nacrowe
there was a moment in the early 1990s when HOUSE MUSIC basically took over BRITISH INDIE culture. there was always this interesting transition at play beforehand with EXPERIMENTAL POST PUNK bands finding there way to more ELECTRONIC, SYNTHESIZER and SEQUENCER-based production techniques (think JOY DIVISION becoming NEW ORDER), but this drug-fueled ACID HOUSE movement transformed the culture on a more ELEMENTAL level.
in retrospect people look towards pre-BRITPOP so-called MADCHESTER bands like THE HAPPY MONDAYS or THE STONE ROSES as embodiments of this changing shift in sonics and MDMA-expanded CONSCIOUSNESS, but in my mind no album better exemplifies such as the SCOTTISH band PRIMAL SCREAM's third record SCREAMADELICA (CREATION, 1991). singer BOBBY GILLESPIE, formerly drummer of fellow SCOTTISH INDIE ROCK icons THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN, is basically the physical EMBODIEMENT of this transition and on songs like "HIGHER THAN THE SUN," "LOADED," "MOVIN' ON UP," "COME TOGETHER," "DAMAGED" and especially "SLIP INSIDE THIS HOUSE" you can feel how the electronic-based beats and inclusions found samples has freed up their BLUES-based ALTERNATIVE ROCK compositions into something else entirely.
that sound and aesthetic is what makes SCREAMADELICA such a revelation. it feels optimistic and hopeful without resorting to tired rock cliches, similar to how listening to THE BEACH BOYS, CSS, THE AQUABATS, PASSION PIT, THE B-52's or THE POLYPHONIC SPREE is a genuinely JOYFUL and CHEERFUL listening experience sans knowing sarcasm or wink wink irony. for me i was not sold on many of the MADCHESTER bands until hearing SCREAMADELICA. it provided that context of the power of such a hybrid sound that bound the EXPERIMENTAL soundscapes and song structures of POST PUNK with the mantra-inducing repetition of HOUSE MUSIC. it was a sonic combination i had never considered and went on to inform the later experiments of BRITPOP bands like LUSH, PULP, BLUR and SUEDE among others.
for me this record is indicative of my personal ethos of trying to remain open-minded to new sounds and perspectives. as new IDEAS, AESTHETICS, TECHNOLOGY and even DRUGS shift culture, there is always an opportunity to question previously held beliefs about the nature of reality. for me SCREAMADELICA is one of those records that presents such a tectonic rearrangement. and its still an exciting listen. definitely required listening for anyone interested in POST PUNK, INDIE ROCK, BRITPOP, ELECTRONIC MUSIC and ALTERNATIVE ROCK during the culturally fertile period in BRITAIN at the beginning of the 1990s.
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