Italian Shoegaze and Dream Pop quick guide, Vol. 1
This time we'd like to introduce you to the Italian multi-colored panorama with a selection of recommended bands orbiting the shoegaze planet.
Better known for its classical music tradition, nowadays Italy holds surprises for noise lovers. Shoegaze, dream pop and noise pop are no longer sort of 90s memorabilia nor rare birds here: with Slowdive, MBV and Ride reuniting in recent years Italian tour dates were always included. And while this resulted in increased fan bases and attention from independent media - with new specialized webzines and web radios coming to light, the truth is Italy has been speaking the language of loud guitars and bleached vocals for some time now.
While in the last decade a few notable veterans have already been making their way in the alternative world, especially over the border, newbies have come to light and settled a real Italogaze scene.
For both, the drive to fit in the international music scene means staying unique, contemporary and somehow having sharp, recognizable roots at the same time.
Drawing inspiration from different genres such as new wave, psych, electronic, grunge, each artist tends to blend their common ground - shoegaze classics and noise essentials - with original tastes.
What they all share is the need to communicate (with no actual words, like any shoegaze singer would) at high volumes, both vertically and horizontally. That is, the listener might find an emotional connection with an ambiguous time-line that ranges from vintage sound scapes to modern arrangements, or he could even find himself in another place.
Lost in a metaphysical space, you can't just tell if you're floating under the surface of a rough sea, if you just ended up in a desolate valley with no-one but a cello, if you're looking for your answers in a remote galaxy or maybe you just got caught in a powerful, colourful vortex.
Either way, you'd probably forget to be in your room and, we're sure, never guess to be under the warm sun of Italy.
You might have already taken a look at our articles on the talented Clustersun and Stella Diana, now let’s continue our journey with a short overview of recommended Italogaze bands. More bands and more steps in this sonic trip are coming soon!
Arguably one of the most long-lived bands in the Italian shoegaze scene, Stella Diana is a multifaceted project founded in 1998 by guitarist Dario Torre, who has been making a big name for himself in Italogaze and international alternative circles as a gifted composer as well as an enthusiastic supporter of shoegaze and alternative genres made in Italy.
Along with his musical career he currently runs the web radio Shoegazin’ your waves, through which he is promoting popular and emerging Italian artists.
Stella Diana has released 5 albums in total showing dramatical changes in terms of line-up, sound shaping, inspirations and even lyrics language.
Their early works were characterised by sharp compositions, echoing vocals and a post-punk texture of sound and song structures. The very choice of Italian language was not obstructive, as is shown by a long-time fan base from all over the world.
Actually the band collected hundreds of European tour dates, which has made them better known abroad than in their homeland.
However, 2015 was the turning point in Stella Diana’s history. Their fifth release, titled Nitocris and produced by renowned sound-engineer Marc Joy, marked a decisive shift towards modern shoegaze tones. Thanks to its richness obtained by skilfully combining walls of sound with dark moods, the album has been widely acclaimed.
Stella Diana’s upcoming work will be titled 57, due out May 25. Its launching single Der Sandmann suggests new patterns and evolution: it is a dreamy, minimalist track featuring a cello that evokes a sense of isolation.
Despite such variety, what has been unchanged throughout Stella Diana discography insofar is an obvious passion for 80s and 90s sounds, their taste in creating melodies, hazy atmospheres and hypnotic bass and drums.
Take your time to read our interview and in-depth collaboration with the band to learn more about them.
Stella Diana’s line-up is:
- Dario Torre - vocals & guitar
- Giacomo Salzano - bass
- Giulio Grasso - drums
Stella Diana’s music work is:
- Supporto colore, album, released 2007
- Gemini, album, released 2011
- 41 61 93, album, released February 2014
- Alhena, EP, released December 2015
- Nitocris, album, released April 2016
Non-original, yet great material include:
- Leave them all behind (Ride cover), digital single, from VA - Leave Them All Behind - A Tribute To Ride, released March 16, 2015 by The Blog That Celebrates Itself Records
- Lazarus (Boo Radleys cover), digital single, from VA - We Are All BOO´s, released April 14, 2016 by The Blog That Celebrates Itself Records
- Mild Confusion (Tamaryn acoustic cover), digital single, released April 2017
- Nothing Natural (Lush cover), digital single, from VA - Lovelife, A Homage To Lush, released March 1, 2018 by The Blog That Celebrates Itself
Blurred dreamy cloudy fuzzy something, and that’s all. Despite such a brief self-introduction on social media, it seems that a little more has been written on Human Colonies since their debut in 2013.
With their last release, Midnight screamer, the band has gained popularity and after some premieres circulating on webzines and specialized blogs, the album has been welcomed by Rolling Stone Italia as a groovy-yet-shoegazey job well done.
Human Colonies music is all about directness and simplicity, tons of fuzz, gentle vocals and a powerful rythmic section. Their favourite artists include Dinosaur Jr., My Bloody Valentine, The Pixies, And you will know us by the trail of dead, Melvins, Sparklehorse.
Their sound is constantly moving through noise, dream pop, psychedelic, all mixed with a genuine lo-fi / punk attitude.
Human Colonies are currently touring Italy, if you happen to be around we recommend you not to miss one of their energetic gigs.
If you’re curious about the history behind this shy and bubbly power trio, we invite you to read more on our dedicated article coming soon.
Human Colonies’ line-up is:
- Giuseppe Mazzoni - guitar, vocals
- Sara Telesca - bass, backing vocals
- Riccardo Cotti - drums and percussions
Human Colonies’ music work is:
- Demo/EP, demo, released August 2013
- Calvary, album, released 2015
- Big Domino Vortex, EP, released January 2017
- Midnight Screamer, album, released April 2018
Non-original, yet great material include:
- Breather (Chapterhouse cover), single, released March 2016. The song is off Treasures, A Tribute to Chapterhouse, a compilation of tracks by various artists appearing on The Blog that Celebrates Itself
- Porcelain (Ulrika Spacek cover), single, released July 2017. The track is included in La Femme Noir, A Tribute Compilation to Zanne 2017.
REV REV REV
Rev Rev Rev is an outstanding example of Italogaze bands that have become famous internationally. Since 2013 they have been touring across continental Europe and UK, as we can read in their detailed self-introduction on the web.
In their own words, Rev Rev Rev’s sound is influenced by first-wave shoegaze, as well as psychedelic rock, re-metabolizing these elements into a loud, woozy, fuzz-driven context. Their live sets comprise kaleidoscopic video projections waving with music, and the use of self-constructed stomp boxes, producing weird sounds.
Positive feedback so far include national and international recognition from national and international press and web zines (Clash music, Sounds better with reverb, Drowned in sound). Various singles were included in shoegaze compilations and sometimes crossed the border of alternative circles – notably, their 2014 song “Catching a buzz” was featured on Steve Lamacq's show on BBC 6 Radio.
The band took part in important events such as Cosmosis Festival 2016 in Manchester (headlined by The Jesus and Mary Chain, Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Raveonettes, just to name a few), followed by a nearly one-year tour of Europe.
The latter was a promotional tour for their last album, titled Des fleurs magiques bourdonnaient, a mesmerising work in which classical dreamy atmospheres blend with echoes of 70s psychedelia, desert rock and noise.
Rev Rev Rev’s line-up is:
- Laura Iacuzio – vocals, bass, guitar
- Sebastian Lugli – guitar
- Andrea Dall'Omo – bass
- Greta Benatti – drums
Rev Rev Rev’s music work is:
Non-original, yet great material include:
- Polar bear (Ride cover), released March 2015. The song is included in the tribute compilation to Ride Leave them all behind, appearing on The Blog That Blog That Celebrates Itself
TIGER! SHIT! TIGER! TIGER!
Punk-ish vocal melodies, guitars playing loud and straight, catchy rhythms: you can meet this power trio halfway between central Italy and USA.
Since their foundation in 2007 Tiger! Shit! Tiger! Tiger! has racked up hundreds of live dates in and out of Italy, bringing along their mighty sound.
USA has in fact become a second home-country as the band showcased its sharp first album (titled Be Yr Own Shit) in several successful performances overseas. They participated in New York CMJ Festival in 2008 and 2009, then reached Austin to take part in famous South By Southwest (SXSW) Festival (2010-2011).
Critical and public acclaim was so great that two tracks have been featured in Anglo-American movie soundtracks.
While TSTT have obviously lived and breathed American indie rock, noise and post-punk legends (Sonic Youth, Fugazi, Dinosaur jr., Sebadoh, Eric's Trip, Built to Spill, Modest Mouse, Pavement, Polvo, No Age, Thee Oh Sees are all quoted as their faves), an evolution in sound and arrangements can be seen in their last releases. Although their rebel heart has been kept, Forever Young and later Corners display slightly different sensibility, various approaches to song structure and a refined attitude towards harmony and vocals that won’t disappoint old and new noisy fans.
Tiger! Shit! Tiger! Tiger! line-up is:
- Diego Masciotti - guitar, vocals
- Giovanna Vedovati - bass
- Nicola Vedovati - drums
Tiger! Shit! Tiger! Tiger! music work is:
MY INVISIBLE FRIEND
On the dreamy side of Italogaze we find this promising band formed in 2014 by four guys who grew up with Spiritualized, My Bloody Valentine and Cocteau Twins.
Started off with quite psychedelic, round, dark atmospheres, in 2016 My Invisible Friend have been shifting into a more mellow, classical dream pop attitude while maintaining their beloved psych-vibes alive.
As a result, their last release is nothing short of an elegant ode to entrancing sounds – that means fuzzy bass lines, liquid, bite guitar tones and a female/male voice taking us on a cathartic trip to harmony.
After touring Italy and France, in September 2017 the band left a cryptic message on their Facebook page. Their future is unclear, as we understand. We just hope this won’t mean a split – Italogaze needs more of their livid colours and dreaming voice.
My Invisible Friend’s line-up is:
- Annalisa Rizzardi - bass, vocals
- Cristian Macchia - guitars, vocals
- Joe - guitars, vocals
- Valentina Baldrighi - drums
My Invisible Friend’s music work is:
Electric Floor is an Italian duo formed in 2013. After experimenting with different alt-rock genres, the band settled as a shoegaze/new-synthwave project.
Their EP Fader is highly recommended to those who are longing for 80s tones and moods. With upfront dramatic voice, dance-y rhythm section and tons of dark synths, it clearly shows the duo’s love for new wave and electronic classics – both vintage and modern.
At the same time, however, typical distortion and reverb make the guitar sound closer to post-punk and shoegaze, creating a particular feature.
Actually for a year now Electric Floor’s release has been going well within the Italogaze world, as it received positive feedback from national and international reviewers, singles were featured in compilations and broadcast by various web radios.
The duo has recently launched their new single "I made it up" (out May 2018), which confirms their post-punk attitude to song-crafting combined with a deep interest in dance beats and atmospheres.
Electric Floor’s line-up is:
- Emanuele Chiarelli – vocals, guitars, programming
- Simone Costantino De Luca – programming, synth
Their music work is:
We hope you enjoyed this first volume of our quick guide to Italogaze. Look at the blog for the next ones.