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Slot - The Sweet Black Bear

  by Paul Raven

published: 4 / 4 / 2007

Slot - The Sweet Black Bear
Label: Small Stone Records
Format: CD


Long overdue retrospective from Pixies and My Bloody Valentine-influenced American shoegazers Slot, released in the wake of guitarist Billy Rivkin's untimely death from cancer

Think back, if you can, to the early 90's: a time when indie and grunge were threatening to sweep aside the entire edifice of spandex rock and dull synthetic pseudo-soul that clogged the arteries of musical culture - a glorious gentle revolution, a triumph of the wilfully obscure and original. No, no – forget for a moment the inevitable collapse of that dream, and the rise of swaggering Brit-pop and loose-trousered skate-core. Instead, remember how it was to feel you were part of the undercurrent that would pull the rotten pier into the sea; recall the pride you found in unearthing some obscure band from the three line reviews in 'Melody Maker' to play to your friends. Slot might well have been one of those bands, had you stumbled on one of their EPs before they split in '95. Before they went their separate ways, they recorded a bunch of material which never made it to release – until now, in the wake of guitarist Billy Rivkin's untimely death from cancer, friends of the band decided to send the songs out into the world, over a decade after they were laid down to tape. As you'd expect, 'The Sweet Black Bear' is a relic of the glory days of shoegazing guitar music, revelling in its fuzzy landscapes and uncaring reverb-drenched wig-outs. Caught somewhere between the howling angst of the Pixies and the hypnogogic drug-fugues of My Bloody Valentine, Slot stitched together the sound of stoned Sundays, the loose guitar work and sparse jazzy drumming providing a hazy backdrop for the wistful dreamy female vocals to meander in front of. It's music to escape into, a cocoon of sound to insulate you from the world outside, a duvet to crawl under on a rainy afternoon. To be fair, they'd never have made it huge, or even big. Sue Lott's vocals are too samey from song to song, which wouldn't have been a problem on a four song EP but derails an album-length project; the general sense of vagueness and introspection that was always the core of shoegazer music would have repelled as many listeners as it attracted, if not more. But as a piece of cultural archaeology, it's fascinating, especially to someone who was growing into music at the time. If you remember the early 90s as 'your' time, 'The Sweet Black Bear' will be a delicious slice of nostalgia. If you're too young to have been buying music at a time when understatement was the musical lingua franca of the alternative scene, perhaps you should take a listen to what the pendulum is long overdue to swing back towards.

Track Listing:-
1 Orchid Taster
2 Crushing Yer Head
3 Stealing From The Future
4 Noon
5 An Evening In Eastpointe
6 You Made Me Do It
7 Bat Nav
8 Last Tuesday's Child
9 Starcock (Basement Version)
10 An Evening In Eastpointe (Playground Version)
11 Jaegernaut
12 (The Remains Of) Emma Peel

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