“Efflorescence” is a Spring-fresh Dream pop/ Shoegaze compilation published by At Sea compilations. According to At Sea themselves:
“At Sea Compilations is a German project to create free downloadable compilations with indie- and undergroundbands.”
With “Efflorescence” At Sea has made an attempt to collect some lustrous, International Dream Pop/ Shoegaze tunes and have come up with this seasonal soundtrack that was released on the 5th of April and can be downloaded from their page on Bandcamp. According to them “ Efflorescence” celebrates “the birth of spring with elaborate melodies, good lyrics and soulful vocals.”
First of all, I want to mention that they succeeded in making something that I can play without getting annoyed or skipping tracks, and that in itself is quite an “accomplishment”! As to whether the tracks all belong to the dreampop/ shoegaze genre is, after a spin or two, obviously debatable. Shoegaze is, again proving to be a hard genre to define.
After listening a couple of times I have to conclude that it is more a collection of tracks by indie bands, period. Along the trip that is “Efflorescence”, I pass by Shoegaze, Jangly pop, Chill/ Cold /Etheral wave and Hipster, although the overall mood is somewhat consistent.
In the 15 track-long list we come across a few names that are well-known and loved in the new Shoegaze scene, like Sounds of Sputnik; Ummagma, and Lights that Change, and some lesser known ones.
The opener “Who’s To Blame” by the Spiracles is a classy piece of jangly pop, but hardly one to set the tone for a Shoegaze compilation. It’s followed by Atlantic Aura’s “Breathe”: Atlantic Aura is German band that sound absolutely promising and delightful.
But then, things are really starting to get interesting! The band Savage Sister from Chicago who put down a Shoegaze sound Pur Sang: “Little Claws” swells and protrudes with that classic church-like reverb sound and angelic voices . This band is a wonderful discovery!
They are one of the highlights on this compilation together with Sounds Of Sputnik ‘s “Motoroller” . Sounds of Sputnik keep amazing me, just like their fellow friends and muscians from Ummagma: “Colors” is like a boquet of warm colors, the first rays of sunlight, soothing jazzchords and atmospeherical echos. Lovely!
Lights That Change “Theme 1 Stage 3” is another highlight. Yes, I know they sound very similar to the Cocteau Twins, but they have enough “ownness” and quality to make it worth while. The mesmerizing chorus of “Theme 1 Stage 3” spirals on in ¾ time like a medieval riddle, with beautifully layered vocals. This track is followed by a track from Australian shoegazers Lowtide. “Still Time” heavily reminds us of Slowdive’s “ Catch the Breeze”, but still lovely and fits in well with the overall ethereal Spring mood. Followed by Italian Shoegazers Kimono Lights with “ Daydream”, a voyage between the realms of “the real and the ideal”.
This very strong heart of the compilation is broken up by three tracks that shoudn’t have been on this compilation, however nice these might be in their own right. The One2’s have some reverb going on but just sound like a happy, noisy indie band and La Feline’s La Fum’e Dans Le Ciel is more like Stereolab doing the soundtrack for a Spy film. Fine Animal ‘s tribal musings in “Old Dollar” belong to the confines of Hipsterdom, Chillwave.
The last 4 tracks seem to have an ambiance of their own. Track 12 (White Fever – “The Killing Kind”), 14 (Saigon Blue Rain – “Borealis” ) and 15 (Lykanthea – “Aphonia”) fall into the category of Ethereal or Cold Wave or GothGaze and frankly, I find them a tad too dark and cold for “ the birth of Spring”. The exception has to be made for Atolla’s electronic shimmer of “Arctic Gazing” which is hardly “Shoe Gazing” but sounds like one of M83’s earlier, brilliant moments.
At Sea clearly did not want to be limited in their choice of bands by something as defining as genre, but why on earth they wanted to label this compilation a Shoegaze / Dreampop compilation is not entirely clear. “ Efflorescence” is a great selection of music/ bands, no matter what you want to call it! I’m freezing now, time to soak up some Rays!