Sciflyer: The Age of Lovely, Intimate Things [revised edition] (Elephant Stone Records, 2016)

Sciflyer: The Age of Lovely, Intimate Things [revised edition] (Elephant Stone Records, 2016)

by Jason

Sciflyer is the project of Steve Kennedy, a true pioneer in shogaze/blisspop circles. Of course, his bandmates give life to his creations: Kim Oberly (bass), Roger Chandler (who played drums on this ep) and Scott Eberhardt (who is the current drummer), and Jeremy Nunes (live – guitar). The Age of Lovely, Intimate Things was originally released in 2005 on Clairecords and has now been re-released in 2016 on Elephant Stone Records. If you do not know The Age of Lovely, Intimate Things, it is an important EP in the history of shoegaze given both its time of release and the exquisite tracks. Sciflyer‘s early work came at a time when shoegaze was on the brink of extinction, particularly in Britain and places them as pioneers of the genre on the North American continent. Also, the original release of this EP had five tracks rather than six and the second song has changed considerably, both in name and in structure. Also included in the new CD packaging are lyrics on the inside of the front cover. A very nice edition to the disc. Lastly, before getting to the individual tracks, it should be mentioned that the production value on the revised edition of The Age of Lovely, Intimate Things has been considerably bettered.

“The Nation” kicks off the EP with blissed out, layered guitars and subtle dreamy vocals from Kennedy. The song is prescient and still, unfortunately, timely. Kennedy sings “we all could get over ourselves and do right by each other / whichever comes first / and the last thing anyone needs to see is another carnival show / we’re all a nation of voyeurs, just waiting for someone to be hurt or something much worse.” Nothing much has changed in the 11 years since the release of this EP. There is a beautiful musical juxtaposition between the bright, hopeful guitars and the melancholy vocals and lyrics. Some hope amid that present unpleasantness that, clearly, has not gone away. Bass and drums drive the song along at mid-tempo with some slight fuzz on the bass. The second track has been renamed from “Proxima Centauri” to the more down to earth “Pacific NW”. Further, “Pacific NW” is a longer track and includes vocals, which “Proxima Centauri” did not. It’s a complete reimagining of the song. “Pacific NW” has a circular guitar line with driving bass and crash-heavy drums, creating a wall of sound which echoes in the speakers. There is beautiful, eruptive noise here, palpable and enigmatic. There is a relational quality to the deeply embedded lyrics with clear mentions of rainstorms coming repeatedly. The “Pacific NW” and it’s unpredictable, constant rain and gloomy weather are reflected in the tonality of the track: driving, beautiful, and awash in sound.

“The Same Things Goes for Christmas” has this beautiful set of guitar riffs that play off one another. They are bright and sparkling, twinkling in an ever-expanding conversation. Riffs with backward affects play along as bass and drum give the various guitar parts glue. There is a certain way that Sciflyer deftly places the listener in this blissed out state while singing of difficult and sometimes dark subject matter. “Like an Ion” swirls about with deeper tones and more fuzz. Kennedy sings “don’t try to make me feel like I’m alive, cuz I’m alright / the money tree, it is abhorred by bird and bee / and the things they know come naturally / like an ion.” The fuzz really creates a buzzing feel, evoking the “bee” imagery in the lyrics and the tension in the relational content.

“Chemical World”, the new track which was not on the original release, begins with bass and swinging percussion with walls of fuzzed out guitar. There is a psychedelic twinge here that really gives the lyrics thrust. The 70’s drip through the speakers mixing in the shoegaze haze as Kennedy sings about someone who has partaken of some chemical pleasures. “Never Come Down” evokes some of the more spacey sounds found in earlier Sciflyer, with fuzzy, screechy guitars and slow lurking bass and drums. Rumbles and bleeps swell as the walls of sound swirl about with layers lurking in the speakers. “Never Come Down” has both the longest run time and the shortest lyrical context, creating a shoegaze, wall of sound jam of epic proportions. Again, Kennedy is brilliant at placing things in opposition to one another to create a more meaningful piece than those things would be in separate spaces or wholly other arrangements.

In the history of shoegaze, Sciflyer has been an important band, particularly as they emerged in the early 2000’s when shoegaze all but died in Britain. They should be recognized as part of that important history. The Age of Lovely, Intimate Things is both timely in its re-release and a chance for fans of the genre to encounter an important record if they missed it the first time around. Kennedy and company’s shoegaze style holds up after over ten years with depth and a unique level of sophistication.

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