Sunday, 20 November 2016

Oliver: The Nightblooms - Butterfly Girl (29 February 1992)

I had a question mark against this when I first heard it.  What tipped the balance was listening, in error, to the 8 minute long version which showed up on The Nightblooms' debut album.  I adored the slow, meditative build up conjured by that 1-2-3/1-2-3 guitar figure, and the voices coming slowly into focus, like reverse radio waves eventually crystallising into the vocals.  The single version, which Peel played on 29/2/92, dispenses with that and comes straight in on the loud clanging guitars, but as you will hear, sound and fury doesn't really have a place here.  Putting their trust in Esther Sprikkelman's unadorned vocal (if this had been a British band at the time, it would have been drowned in reverb, I expect), the sun/rain/snow metaphors drift by like clouds in a Yoko Ono lullaby.

It all sounds horribly kitsch, the kind of winsome "slippergaze" that grunge was sent to obliterate, but instead it achieves a kind of beautiful serenity, even through the nihilistic lines: "I don't think and I don't mind.  I don't feel and I don't care."  I'm also tickled by the fact that the track was apparently recorded over the first two days of 1992.  There's a sense of moving from the old to the new, as in from last year to this year.  The sudden cut-off at the end encapsulates this completely, as though the butterfly girl has emerged from her chrysalis over the course of the Christmas period and is ready to fly into the new year, at least until the butterfly net of failed resolutions falls on her.

Video courtesy of fastfoodsblips


  1. Not only is there no reverb on the lead vocal but, unlike with contemporary 'shoegaze' acts, there's only one guitar and no effects on that either. 'The clouds in a Yoko Ono lullaby': I like that.

    "Imagine the clouds dripping.
    Dig a hole in your garden to
    put them in."
    (from Yoko's fantastic 'Grapefruit' book)

  2. One day, when I'm in the right mood, I hope to read Grapefruit in a double bill with Leonard Cohen's Beautiful Losers.