Bare Pale – If It Is (EP) (self-released)

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First thing’s first, currently, you’re not going to find much online about London shoegaze trio, Bare Pale. Aside from their anonymous looking Bandcamp, Soundcloud and Facebook pages there’s little else but your own curiosity to lead you.

Vocalist/guitarist and songwriter Matthew Rickelton (guitar/vocals) writes and records the songs in his bedroom before teaming up with bassist/vocalist Joe C, and drummer Harry to rehearse the material in the drummer’s North West London basement.

The trio released their debut 6-song EP back in November and if you can get beyond the rawness of the recording, the joy is yours to be had.

It’s as if the band have entered a time capsule marked 1994 without any reference to modern influence. Their songwriting, arrangements, choice of riffing, and in fact entire vibe is early 90’s lo-fi shoegaze/dream-pop. And it’s brilliant. Think My Bloody Valentine and Chapterhouse with tiny hints of Slowdive (minus synths and minus their lushness), and in part, Pavement. Yes, it’s thick and murky with Rickleton’s vocals suitably monotone and obscured.

Opening track “Bale Pale” immediately invites the listener into the dreamy lo-fi world of ‘If It Is’. Initially jarring, their sound is awash with fuzz and noise yet somehow the vocals and guitars creep through and bring with it colour and pop-like melodies. The entire song deviates little from its opening riff but instead builds in noise and texture, a tool that band often employs.

Each of the six songs sway and swirl at a mid-tempo psychedelic  groove; the tuneful and catchy “I Never Could” for example is both is plodding and grooving simultaneously. “Rub It In” picks up the tempo and is the most melodic track of the six with wonderfully jangly guitars that recall Chapterhouse.

Final song “Shame” sounds like the product of some long-lost My Bloody Valentine demo tape with huge riffs, swirling guitar bends, and awash with fuzz. A definite highlight track.

The crudeness of recording and its noise is intoxicating and only adds to the dreaminess of the songs. A brilliant diamond in the rough, ‘If It Is’ was released on 10 November 2012  and is available digitally via the Bare Pale Bandcamp as a “name-your-own-price” download.

Listen to the entire EP below:

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