Spanish Dream Pop

by Luis Miguel Flores
We have a wide variety of articles and interviews from our printed issues, released on-line now, to help our readers to spend some time reading due to the confinement caused by #COVID19. Like this one, about Spanish Pop Music and its surrounding culture, written by Luís Miguel Flores for Brit Es Magazine printed issue #0Dreams, December 2016. Illustration by Pablo Je Je.

Just like its ever-circling, twanging, ringing guitars, dream pop keeps coming back. The last two or three years have been especially good, with compilations such as 2016’s “Still in a Dream (A Story of Shoegaze 1988-1995)”, the return of pioneers like Ride, Slowdive, Lush or -in the case of Spain- Automatics; and the adoption of this religion by new believers like I Break Horses, No Joy, Wye Oak…

Let me take you back to its defining era, twenty-something years ago (we Spaniards are late adopters of pop, you see), when Spanish dream-pop came to be, and its devotee was normally filed under the huge, all-encompassing “noise pop” banner. Let’s face it: even if you have some kind of emotional attachment to this music (count me in), the amateurish and soupy sound El Regalo de Silvia (a violin-heavy quartet from Zaragoza) or Seville’s formulaic Automatics has not aged that well. Also from Seville Long Spiral Dreamin’ -future Maga Miguel Rivera’s big songs help- fares considerably better. And, luckily for them, Xixon’s Sound’s pioneers Penelope Trip still sound… well, weird. Of course, Granada’s heroes Los Planetas (in action, almost 25 years later) and the extinct but beautiful, Albacete’s own Mercromina (fronted by the extremely active Surfin’ Bichos’ Joaquín Pascual) were game-changing, shape-shifting bands then… and as such, retain their status.

There was -and is- the second generation of dream-pop bands also in Spain, born in the last 5 to 15 years. Lest we forget, Pamplona’s El Columpio Asesino recorded a good, straightforward dream-pop debut album in 2003, 10 years before their hymnic and radically different hit, “Toro”. Noisy Galician barbarians like Triángulo de Amor Bizarro (especially with their last and somewhat “softer” album) or even Disco Las Palmeras! fit the bill almost perfectly. Nadadora (also from Galicia, disbanded in 2012) was the “poppy” counterpart to the noisier troupe, and along with Blacanova (Seville’s 21st Century dream-pop darlings), are the best examples of the “dreamier” aspects of the genre. Yes, of course, you know what I mean: the circular motion, the bewitching and haunting melodies, the ethereal vocals pushed all the way to the back, that crazy accumulation of guitar pedals stepped on by (mostly battered and black) Converse shoe-gazing, eyes-behind-hair youngsters. The lot.

So, dream on…

Top 10 Spanish Dream Pop Albums
  1. El Regalo de Silvia: El regalo de Silvia (1991)
  2. Penélope Trip: Politomanía (1993)
  3. Los Planetas: Super 8 (1994)
  4. Mercromina: Acrobacia (1995)
  5. Long Spiral Dreamin’: Chemins de fer (1995)
  6. Automatics: Space Rock Melodies (1997)
  7. El Columpio Asesino: El columpio asesino (2003)
  8. Nadadora: Todo el frío del mundo (2005)
  9. Blacanova: Blacanova (2010)
  10. Triángulo de Amor Bizarro: Salve discordia (2016)

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