In the late ‘80s/early ‘90s UK shoegaze was generally seen as a derogatory term aimed at NME bands who couldn’t dance but made great music. It was impossible to dance to but great to take drugs to. Thirty years later there are thousands of bands all over the globe influenced by those heady days of influential acts such as My Bloody Valentine and Catherine Wheel.
As time passed, other genres and influences get mixed into the shoegaze genre however. Eclectic listening and tastes over the past thirty years opened up individuals’ ears to all types of genres, therefore what comes out should be unique to every person making new music. A serious genre made by serious people, tapping into a powerful, psychedelic wall of noise with touches of early Cocteau Twins and post-punk, however, here we also have elements of prog, drone and electronic music.
Modern Stars are promoted as shoegaze, but I can hear more of a Black Angels/Velvet Underground ‘60s neo psychedelic thing happening on this, their third album, Space Trips For The Masses. Italian by origin and composed of Andrea Merolle (guitar, sitar, mandolin, synthesizers and vocals), Barbara Margani (soprano vocals), Andrea Sperduti (drums and percussions), and Filippo Strang (bass), this psych industrial band have, to my ears, created something of their very own, which is extremely rare these days. 99% of shoegaze bands draw from the same well and replicate what they have heard, but as anyone knows, sure go ahead, take and be influenced, but make something that is unique to you.
an album filled with imagination and honest intent which opens up a vista of sounds, feelings and thoughts…
So it’s refreshing to hear an album filled with imagination and honest intent which opens up a vista of sounds, feelings and thoughts. A ‘sonic exploration through extra-terrestrial soundscapes’ is how their label Little Cloud Records have described them. There is little or no relevance to conventional ideas of rock and roll whatsoever here because, as the band says, ‘we want our records to sound like a journey, not just a collage of songs’. I can honestly say they have achieved just that. Space Trip for the Masses I am informed deals with the ‘search for happiness’ and is inspired by recent conversations regarding space tourism, a concept which revolves around ‘an amateur astronaut, who sets off towards the sun without returning home’.
Spiritualized and more recently, The Third Sound, have walked this road for a while now and do it well, as do Modern Stars, so if you are a fan of either of those two bands, jump on this album, it is excellent. Huge drones and dark atmospheres even tap into Jesus And Mary Chain at times.
Sure, they wear there influences openly but who doesn’t? However, with this original soup of influences and genres, Modern Stars are to be congratulated on producing an interesting, modern and powerful record for 2022. Space Trips For The Masses deserves to do well and will appeal to those who enjoy being transported away from their humdrum existence to another void populated with like-minded souls.
Scribed by: Tim Keppie