Thursday, 19 September 2013

Curve - Doppelgänger (1992)

I seem to recall Curve as being somewhat frowned upon in at least one music paper, their crime being the impersonation of a more fashionable group by someone who once played session guitar for the Eurhythmics and was thus financed by Nestle or some other soulless conglomerate. Curve were, so it transpired, U2 pretending to be My Bloody Valentine, fooling the cool kids into liking something that wasn't cool like when some cuboid Nazi square bank manager slips a Def Leppard album in with your precious Huggy Bear discs, and you've already punched the air in time to the first four tracks before you realise your mistake.

I never quite saw the problem, and so far as I could tell, Curve had a couple of decent tunes in there somewhere, so I wasn't too bothered about Toni Halliday being married to Sir Alan Sugar. Now, two decades after the fact, having actually heard My Bloody Valentine and picking this album up on the grounds that I remember it sounding okay when my girlfriend of the time played it into a flexidisc, I have to wonder if Curve might not be due some apologies.

My Bloody Valentine were nice enough, and Loveless is without doubt the greatest thing ever released by Creation Records - although  that's hardly a boast seeing as everything else the label ever put out was utter shite; but I just can't listen to it without visualising a bunch of smackies mumbling about rare Velvet Underground bootlegs.

Curve were, I suppose, My Bloody Valentine given hot baths, haircuts and a change of clothes, cruising along the interstate in an open-top Cadillac with guns and beer; and the weird thing is that if they really were just a steal of that shoegazing guitar drone schtick, then at the very least they saved the genre from the miserable buggers who invented it - invented by a loose definition of the term - and turned it into something that's good to listen to.

Curve's surge of guitars still sounds absolutely overwhelming, and the programmed elements strike a nice balance, going further than simply standing in for humans whilst holding back from anything that too obviously dates the music. The bass rumbles, and Toni Halliday's icy voice is a perfect complement to the burning wall of sound, if that isn't too purple a turn of phrase. There are few artists who have managed to seem simultaneously quite so primal and yet with such sophistication, making most of those corny old goth bands look like a Chas & Dave Halloween special; and Horror Head still doesn't sound quite like anything else recorded before or since.

Maybe Curve were really just Johnny Hates Jazz with leather jackets and a digital delay, but frankly who cares when it sounds this good?

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