The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa


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Originally recorded and released in 1992, the group's debut effort only got the wider attention it deserved some years later via a reissue on Clairecords. At the time the then quartet was at its fully noisiest, embracing the efforts of Dinosaur Jr. and especially Isn't Anything-era My Bloody Valentine to a perfectly clear extent. Recordings were thick and rushed, feedback and fuzz permeated everything, and studio sculpting of said distortion, especially offset against Irna Libowitz and Jan Muchow's vocals, couldn't help but call such comparisons to mind. Drummer Petr Wegner and bassist Jan Gregar distinguish themselves more via acknowledgements of their presence instead of notable playing per se, but the rough clatter of Wegner's work and Gregar's tones and rumbles more than individual notes do set the scene well enough. If these initial efforts essentially cloned those bands even more thoroughly than the initial rush of U.K. shoegazing types, though, Ecstasy of St. Theresa at least made it all sound pretty good, while knowing where the group eventually ended up makes listening to the earliest songs all that much more fun in context. Muchow has a definite ear for the tremolo-abusing styles that Kevin Shields helped pioneer, and the swirl and crunch on songs, like the appropriately entitled "Swoony," are at once totally derivative and completely entrancing. Other quieter moments indicate where the group would head next, as when "Toalison" suddenly cuts down to just a high strummed bassline and wispy vocals softly echoing in the distance before heading back into full crunch mode, or the initial appearance of bell-like chimes on "Icecream Star." Guest vocals from Riikka Maria Pelo crop up on a few songs, but generally there's little to differentiate between all three singers, all of whom get almost totally buried in the mix in favor of the howling wash of sound.