Album #95: Bailter Space – Wammo

  • Released: 1995
  • Origin: Christchurch, New Zealand
  • Label: Matador
  • Best Track: Glimmer

Lost albums of the ’90s seem to crop up quite a lot on this blog. With the decade offering such a rich scene of indie and alternative music, bands that might have been a sensation at another time often found themselves a little off the radar and rarely talked about today – think Hum, Gene and the Longpigs.

New Zealand noise-rock/shoegazers Bailter Space perhaps fall into that category too, and I had never heard of them before they cropped up on a Facebook group the other day.

I tend to prefer shoegaze that veers more towards noise-rock than dream-pop. I like it to be raw and abrasive rather than overworked and “clean”. I mean, I suppose My Bloody Valentine are the definition of overworking it (22 years between two albums???), but they manage to achieve an imperfect, fluff-on-the-needle sound through their meticulousness. Maybe Ringo Deathstarr are the example of what I’m not keen on, where it almost sounds like they’re doing so much and trying so hard, that it comes out a bit blobby and meaningless

I can understand the comparisons made at the time between Bailter Space and Sonic Youth (who, incidentally, are a band I’ve surprisingly never really managed to get into, but that’s a different story for a different time). On Wammo, their fifth album, their sound is creative and abstract. They’re not afraid to mess around with irregular drumming patterns like on ‘Voltage’. At the same time, tracks like ‘Splat’ and ‘Retro’ are pretty straightforward, and sound a lot like something you’d expect from a Liverpool or Manchester band. Vocally, they’re not unlike The La’s.

I particularly like ‘Glimmer’. It’s a right din, with the vocals barely audible at times beneath this repeated, rambunctious riff and thudding drums.

It’s a fine album. A lost classic?

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