Boomkat Product Review:
Available on vinyl for the first time in almost 20 years, Bowery Electric's self-titled first album offers a view of shoegaze from across the Atlantic, where New Yorkers Lawrence Chandler and Martha Schwendener combined MBV's enigmatic noise with the inscrutable drugginess of Krautrock.
Bowery Electric's most canonical moment came in 1996 with the sample-heavy 'Beat', but that shouldn't give you an excuse to sleep on their vital, sonorous early material. They released 'Bowery Electric' only shortly earlier in 1995, drowning out Chandler and Schwendener's almost indistinguishable vocals in guitar noise and feedback. Their sound at this stage was undoubtedly rooted in the UK's moodiest, dreamiest shoegaze gear - think Slowdive, Lush and My Bloody Valentine - but Bowery Electric didn't seem interested in breaking through into the mainstream. While their British peers were signing to larger indies and being raked over hot coals by a catty, ambivalent music press, they inked a deal with Chicago's Kranky and found themselves alongside proto-post-rock giants like Labradford, Roy Montgomery and Jessamine.
Listening now, their rugged guitar drones and sparse rhythms harmonise well with Flying Saucer Attack and later Popol Vuh as much as the poppier Creation set. This material would go on to provide a creative lifeline to bands like Windy and Carl and Godspeed You Black Emperor!, suggesting a level of hollowed-out ambience that would later define the Kranky label. And it still sounds fresh, never breaking from its levitational mood for a moment, whether Chandler and Schwendener flirt with beatless soundscapes on 'Over and Over' or jerky, Spacemen 3-inspired psychedelia on the extended 'Slow Thrills'. The most enduring moment comes right at the end, the aptly titled 'Drift Away', a hazed, meditative droner that can be filed alongside Sonic Youth's head-mashing 'The Diamond Sea'. So good.