Dream pop (also typeset as dreampop) is a subgenre of alternative rock and neo-psychedelia that is characterized by its preoccupation with sonic texture and atmosphere as much as melody, including characteristics such as breathy vocals, use of guitar effects, and dense productions. It often overlaps with the related genre of shoegaze, and the two genre terms have at times been used interchangeably.
|Cultural origins||1960s–1980s, United Kingdom and United States|
The genre came into prominence in the 1980s, through the work of Cocteau Twins, A.R. Kane, and their contemporaries. Following the emergence of shoegaze, ambient pop developed as a variant of dream pop that incorporates electronic textures.
Dream pop is thought to relate to the "immersion" in the music experienced by the listener. The AllMusic Guide to Electronica (2003) defined dream pop as "an atmospheric subgenre of alternative rock that relies on sonic textures as much as melody". Common characteristics are breathy vocals, the use of guitar effects, and a densely produced sound. The music tends to focus on textures and moods rather than propulsive rock riffs. Lyrics are often introspective or existential in nature. In the view of Simon Reynolds, dream pop "celebrates rapturous and transcendent experiences, often using druggy and mystical imagery". According to Rachel Felder, dream pop artists often resist representations of social reality in favour of ambiguous or hallucinogenic experiences.
Author Nathan Wiseman-Trowse explained that the "approach to the sheer physicality of sound" integral to dream pop was "arguably pioneered in popular music by figures such as Phil Spector and Brian Wilson". George Harrison's 1970 album All Things Must Pass, with its Spector-produced Wall of Sound and fluid arrangements, led music journalist John Bergstrom to credit it as a progenitor of the genre. Musician Tessa Violet referred to the Beach Boys' 1970 song "All I Wanna Do" as the "OG dream pop anthem". The music of the Velvet Underground in the 1960s and 1970s, which experimented with repetition, tone, and texture over conventional song structure, was also an important touchstone in the genre's development.
1980s: Development and shoegazing sceneEdit
Rolling Stone's Kory Grow described "modern dream pop" as originating with the early 1980s work of Cocteau Twins and their contemporaries, while PopMatters' AJ Ramirez noted an evolutionary line from gothic rock to dream pop. Grow considered Julee Cruise's 1989 album Floating into the Night, written and produced by David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti, as a significant development of the dream pop sound which "gave the genre its synthy sheen."
The term "dream pop" was coined by Alex Ayuli of A.R. Kane, who used the phrase in the late 1980s to describe his band's sound, which combined distorted guitar, dub production, and drum machines. The label was subsequently adopted by music critic Simon Reynolds to describe A.R. Kane and later extended to the nascent shoegazing scene in the UK. In the 1990s, "dream pop" and "shoegazing" were interchangeable and regionally dependent terms, with "dream pop" being the name by which "shoegazing" was typically known in America. Reynolds had described dream pop bands as "a wave of hazy neo-psychedelic groups", noting the influence of the "ethereal soundscapes" of bands such as Cocteau Twins.
1990s–present: Influence and continued interestEdit
The late 1980s dream pop of A.R. Kane and My Bloody Valentine influences various 1990s acts such as Seefeel and Insides, who were drawn to techno and began utilizing elements such as samples and sequenced rhythms. Ambient pop music was described by AllMusic as "essentially an extension of the dream pop that emerged in the wake of the shoegazer movement", distinct for its incorporation of electronic textures.
Much of the music associated with the 2009-coined term "chillwave" could be considered dream pop. In the opinion of Grantland's David Schilling, when "chillwave" was popularized, the discussion that followed among music journalists and bloggers revealed that labels such as "shoegaze" and "dream pop" were ultimately "arbitrary and meaningless".
List of artistsEdit
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- The 30 Best Dream Pop Albums|Pitchfork
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- "Violet's 'tracks to listen to on tour' playlist, feat. Spinn, Kylie, Swim Deep and more". Dork. 16 May 2019.
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- King, Richard (2012). How Soon is Now?: The Madmen and Mavericks who made Independent Music 1975-2005. Faber & Faber. p. 206. ISBN 978-0-571-27832-9.
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- Tyler, Kieron (17 January 2016). "Reissue CDs Weekly: Still in a Dream - A Story of Shoegaze". The Arts Desk.
- Reynolds, Simon (2011). Bring the Noise: 20 Years Writing About Hip Rock and Hip Hop. Soft Skull. p. 190.
- Reynolds, Simon (1994), Quique - Seefeel review, Spin
- Schilling, Dave (8 April 2015). "That Was a Thing: The Brief History of the Totally Made-Up Chillwave Music Genre". Grantland.com.