As the scene that celebrated itself, there wasn’t a lot of room in Shoegaze for doubt and self-loathing. Introspective it may have been, and dreamy to the point of helpless romanticism, but an underlying confidence lay at its heart; a belief that it was possible to capture the essence of a moment in sound, to breathe new life into thoughts, dreams and emotions and dress them in intricately woven textured layers. There was power, there was grace, but there was never misgiving.
Italian trio Weird approach their music from the opposite direction, carrying all the weight of alienation, loneliness and a lack of self-worth. Just a glimpse at their song titles reveals the darkness that haunts them – “Infinite Decay”, “Widow”, “The Sound Of Your Heartbreak” – and their inherent negativity feeds into their music making A Long Period Of Blindness (the title itself speaks volumes) more funereal than celebratory. There’s little counterplay between dark and light here; the single guitar has no rival to taunt or hide behind and the band eschew excessive multi-tracking, resulting in a mournful, pared-back sound reminiscent of a reverb-friendly Red House Painters or a guitar-hungry Brendan Perry.
Though at times this can make things a little one-eyed, ALPOB is not an unattractive listen, and when Weird hit the target, they do so with some style, the restraint of the simmering “Widow” being particularly fine. Throughout the thoughtful basswork of Giovanni Romano impresses and, pleasingly, the band are adept at ending songs, never the easiest thing to do. The final incongruous twenty-four seconds of the dreamy “Infinite Decay” are a joy, and the little burst of falsetto from Marco Barzetti at the conclusion of “Gaze” is a quite lovely touch. Where the album works best, though, is on the multi-layered, seven-minute closer “Swans” which is given just that little extra bit of satisfying depth and hints that a second guitarist may be no bad thing as the band progresses.
This is darker than your average fare, more haunted than haunting, and though there is power in its structure, it comes at a cost to its field of vision. Time will tell if Weird can escape from the prison of their own minds.
Adam Hammond is the head of Isolation in Sussex, once a small record label and now an independent music website and gig promoter. www.isolationrecords.co.uk