For those of you who aren't fully aware, the Shoegaze of this compilation's title refers to a splinter group of late 80's British indie that, initially inspired by the likes of Spacemen 3 and My Bloody Valentine, traded their paisley shirts for effects pedals and layers of filtered guitar noise. At its peak bands like Chapterhouse and The Telecopes crept onto underground music mag Snub TV, whilst Oxford's Ride crossed over into the chart world with their 1992 album Going Blank Again.
All of that changed with just a few strummed chords, pinched wholesale from Boston's rock-opera tune "More Than A Feeling" by a little known American band from upstate Washington. The pilferer was Kurt Cobain, and the release of Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit proved to be a mass extinction event for shoegaze, and indeed for most British band orientated music, at least in the short term.
Life will overcome of course, and in recent years there have been signs that not only is the Anglophile vibe much alive again, but thriving: Ride's unlikely reformation is now very definitely a thing, whilst the list of all day retro festivals continues to grow each babysitter defying year. Comprising a globe spanning twenty seven outfits from sixteen countries, this is you feel a collection that can challenge preconceptions based on strength of numbers alone. From the off the roster also represents nearly every facet and stylistic cul-de-sac of the original diaspora, finding a place for both it's blissed out sense of hypnosis and less welcomingly it's awkward self-indulgence. The squall of feedback which begins opener She Doesn't Feel The Sun pegs Brazilians Duelectrum as responsible citizens of this planet wide new brotherhood alright, the song's peaks and troughs like vintage battering rams and tragedies. Hazy Youth's Trementia is very My Bloody Valentine mind you, to the point of tribute band status, until it wakes up from slumber with a Lush-esque chorus.
Remarkably, five of the featured bands are from Indonesia of all places, a brief internet search revealing that in fact the far flung (From Oxfordshire or Camden anyway) country is, somewhat bemusingly, home to an ebullient resurrection of the form. Of their acts here Sharesprings are jangly, Intenna drone angelically, Damascus rawk and Digilite are effervescent, but it's Seaside who take local bragging rights with their capricious dream pop, sounding as if they've been teleported from Leicester's Princess Charlotte in the summer of 1991.
What about the Brits? I hear you say. As inventors of the game, UK bands are suitably represented, Lights That Change shamelessly pillaging their Cocteau Twins gossamer intrigue (But doing it well), although Wozniak's vocals-from-the-broom-cupboard are slightly freaky, whilst the Gothic musical entrails of Blood Lips visceral Heartbeats are just on the right side of the line marked melodrama. It's worth acknowledging the compilers for their broadness of vision here as well; twenty seven versions of Catherine Wheel's Black Metallic would've been a challenge even for the diehards. Their broad perspective allows though for less obvious moments of joy such as Slow Motion Picture's soulful and epic Opening, Clustersun's Madchester-soaked Hipgnosis and even some retro-future-now angst via Hermetic Delight's live cover of The Cure's ancient ode to misery The Funeral Party.
It's with a wry smile though that we see the word "Revolution" used when by definition a load of bands faithfully recreating the sound of a niche movement is anything but that. This sprawling collection's diversity of artists and niches is testimony to the communicative power of some of the last sounds to exist before the multimedia age: occasionally thrilling, it's appeal however remains largely still for those who did it and are still wearing the t-shirt.