The year was 1991. A cease-fire had just ended the Gulf War, and the Chicago Bulls were on fire. The summer forecast was looking hot for the entire Western world, and Pee-Wee Herman got caught with his pants down in an adult theater. Frankly speaking, it was a great time in human history.
Then, right at the beginning of the summer, came one of, if not the best, shoegaze album of all time. Whirlpool was released on June 25th by the band Chapterhouse, which consisted of five youngsters from Reading, Berkshire, England. The band had been at it since 1987, but did not release a full-length record until this.
From the beginning track, Breather, listeners are dosed with a heavily layered and atmospheric sound. The vocals are a melodic whisper and carry through the music like a cloud floating alongside. The drums are often electronic sounding, like in songs Pearl and Falling Down, but in that 90’s electronic drumming sound that prevailed in this type of music. It sounds warm and not too synthesized.
Listening to this album is akin to taking a stroll on memory lane, but oh what a fucking memory. Albums like this can only be counted on one hand, and Chapterhouse were never able to make another like it either. In fact, the band made one more album and then called it quits. They put the best of themselves on to this record though, and the quality of songs, sixteen of them to be exact, is uncanny.
This is a definitive shoegaze album. If you Google search best shoegaze albums, this one makes all the lists (usually in the top five). The sound of the music is timeless (if you like shoegaze) and hearkens back to a space in musical history when bands still loved guitars, amplifiers and effect pedals.
So, in case you missed Chapterhouse’s album Whirlpool because you were too busy listening to Wrex-In-Effect or Phil Collins, or hell, maybe you weren’t born yet, here is your chance. Take it on sound advice that this is a special album from a special time in music. Slip on a pair of Doc Martens and into your favorite Sessions t-shirt, load this album into your compact disc player, and float away.
Chapterhouse, Whirlpool. Digital Image. I-Tunes.
Web. 10 May 2016.