Those who joyfully declare “It sounds like My Bloody Valentine!” whenever they hear a new band deploying a bit of pitch bending will find much to love with this lavishly produced - if rather intimidating in length - 87 track box set encased in very ‘Vaughan Oliver circa 1987’ 4AD packaging.
The key acts, apart from MBV themeselves, are all on the tracklisting: Jesus & Mary Chain, Slowdive, Galaxie 500, Ride, Loop, Lush, Curve, Swervedriver, Cocteau Twins, House of Love and Spacemen 3 are each present. Long term shoegaze fans won't find much merit here; the inclusion of those acts certainly makes sense, but way more interesting are the bands who operated under the radar, who either came before or after the imperial phase of gaze, or bands you may not have necessarily connected to the genre. But this is where Still In A Dream really kicks in; it's is more than a compilation, rather a meticulous study of reverb music.
The likes of "Mercy Seat" (not the Nick Cave version) by Ultra Vivid Scene, "Sight Of You" by The Pale Saints, or "Godlike" by The Dylans are premium pieces of mid-'80s alt pop, and provide three of the box set's high points. They're not instantly recognisable as shoegaze, but within context, the swirly atmospherics and melancholy injected euphoria prove to be a perfect match to the more introverted aspects of this set.
There's plenty of what you'd expect, too: Nightbloom’s frantic wah wahs and grunge precursors from The Charlottes and Catherine Wheel, the latter - alongside Swervedriver - being rocky square pegs in the shoegaze hole who even utilised the genre's major no no; guitar solos.
Alongside Chapterhouse's use of dance beats on "Falling Down" and Velvet Underground-influenced psych from The Telescopes and Jane from Occupied Europe, there's post-C86 jangle from 14 Iced Bears and an especially great lost track from A.C Marias (an ex-member of Wire) who pre-dates Lush's finest material by several years with the beaty motorik harmonic jang of "One Of Our Girls Has Gone Missing". All somehow manage to stand out among some truly brilliant music.
The trump material here comes from the acts who veer furthest away from the indie sound of the genre, be it the sampladelic attitude of A.R Kane (who also recorded ”Pump up The Volume” as M.A.R.R.S), the brooding, smoky swagger of "Sugar Blast" by Dr Phibes & The House of Wax Equation, or the Talk Talk-influenced electronic post rock of Bark Pychosis, SeeFeel and Flying Saucer Attack. On the flipside, you can rejoice in the stunning pop epic that is “Geek Love” by Bang Bang Machine, the breakbeat laden yearning of which makes it easily one of the best songs of the '90s, one that still causes mandatory swoons during its sublime nine minutes.
This collection excels by showcasing the depth of music that had the word applied to it during the album’s seven year time span ('88 to '95). That word, 'shoegaze', was applied to much more than just skinny guys looking a bit sad with guitars. By investigating these areas - from the end of the C86 scene through to shoegaze itself via grunge and ending with Britpop - Still in A Dream proves itself to be a truly comprehensive release.