Just For A Day
adies and gentlemen, I was the recipient of a Christmas miracle.
The punctual Mr. Claus kindly dispensed with his traditional lump of coal this year and instead opted for the gift of illness. A sneeze-laden, feverish gateway to remaining bedridden and the tacit provision of ‘man flu’ material for lazy BBC3 comediennes was mine to cherish and enjoy. DVD delights ran thin. Digesting any written material proved to approach a level of difficulty akin to staying on those bubbles during the early levels of Underwurlde. However; I had a sparkly new record.
That record, of course, being Sanctuary’s reissue of Just For A Day—the debut venture for Reading’s pioneering, soft-focus artwork masters. As this is a reissue, the early EPs and a couple of choice Peel cuts are included on a bonus disc with a frightening sense of inevitability, along with the whole thing being touched by the mystical hand of remastering. Whether this means there are even more swirls than ever or that some have been tactfully removed, I have no idea. What I can tell you is that it still sounds like a dream. When you’re a captive audience under a dishevelled duvet—even more so.
It was a strangely restful experience, that first listen. Like having a personalised lullaby sung by specialist sleep therapy aliens beamed directly into my head; one distant, gently-phased swooshing sound stretched over forty five minutes. By the time the subverted funeral march pace of “Spanish Air” had concluded, my phlegmy convulsions had eased. So complete was the restorative effect of “Celia’s Dream” that I almost didn’t notice that the opening riff was ripped from Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds. Even the fearsome heat which threatened to consume my face as if I were some dubious Nazi on a mission to steal the Ark of the Covenant subsided when met by the watery charms of “Erik’s Song.” Existing in a world of magic underwater instruments and the kind of rowdy bubble noises usually heard only in aquariums, it washed over me like an exaggerated double-page splash for moisturiser. I felt cleansed. As the pulsing fade of “Primal” span away down my audio receptacle, I knew I was cured.
However, such medical intrigue should not cloud necessary comparisons with Souvlaki. The standard is set high in the Slowdive catalogue and Just For A Day documents a band on a journey to that peak. These earlier forays in sound are looser, semi-hypnotic pieces—sprawling further than the more focused efforts which would appear on the next album (an effect taken to near-ludicrous extremes by “Avalyn 2” on the EPs disc). Pure texture, rather than melody or structure, appears to have been of primary concern during recording; and though this presents a record of welcome distinction, a certain amount of tightness is missing. Nonetheless, this is a thoughtful reissue package of Slowdive’s absorbing beginnings—complete with potential healing properties.
The day after my recovery I listened to Pygmalion and began communicating with the dead. True story.