When a Box Set Is Not a Box Set…

…but is still full of delights

Box sets become a strange artifact when they come in a form of files or a streaming link. They don’t show their full artistic glory. No liner notes, no images. At glance, you don’t know whether there are any rarities demos… Somehow they get the treatment as any other ‘regular’ album file or a stream link. It just takes a long time to listen to them through. This plain level field often gives them the treatment of yet another thing on the pile… 

Of course, there’s always another element that can just leave them there to finally be played. A cursory knowledge of what is included. Case in point - ‘Still In A Dream: A Story Of Shoegaze 1988-1995,’ a five-CD box set from 2016 issued by the British reissue expert Cherry Red.

You see, the original shoegaze was mainly a thing of the Nineties, and these days, it seems that nobody cares about the Nineties music. Even the ravings about Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ have become something of a cursory thing when you talk about the albums that are ‘somewhere’ on your best-of list.

And then shoegaze itself. The term itself was coined by the sardonic part of the music press referencing the bands that mostly spent their time on stage mostly switching the sound of their instruments with their effect pedals located on the floor with their feet. The term is still around, and quite a number of purveyors of the pedal-affected guitar sound are now proud of describing their sound as such.

Somehow, the original artists categorized as shoegaze are either not playing music or are simply disregarded. Some just simply got stuck as tiny footnotes in a genre that still creates mixed feelings.

What is characterized as shoegaze, was actually a large chunk of what was the music of the Nineties, and on the evidence of this box set, the part that produced some of the best music of that decade? This box set (now mostly out of stock) proves it.

Sure, it is partly due to the meticulous selection and liner notes that always characterizes Cherry Red’s sets like this one. But still, the music not only sounds current but shows that the pigeonholing term shoegaze encompassed much more diverse sounds than what the artists could do by changing effect pedals with their feet. On stage or in the studio.

And it is not just the names that are recognizable by more general audiences - Cocteau Twins, Ride, Galaxie 500… I mean, who except the most ardent fans these days remembers the likes of A.C. Marias or Honey Smugglers? Still, the music even by those lesser-knowns resonates as fresh and vital. 

Essentially, ‘Still In A Dream: A Story Of Shoegaze 1988-1995’ can help with not only re-assessing the shoegaze as a genre but the music of the Nineties. That is if you can find it somewhere. Maybe it is in one of your piles too…