Louise Trehy is an indie/dream-pop/shoegaze musician from London. If you’re an astute and loyal reader, you may recognize her name, even though she’s been out of the business for nearly 20 years. She was once one-half of the magnificent dream-pop outfit Swallow, who only released one album. That album — Blow — was one of my favorite albums not only of 1992, but of that decade. It still remains in regular rotation at my house. With quite obvious glove taps to the likes of Cocteau Twins and His Name is Alive, 4AD Records was the perfect home for them, and my record collection was and still is a perfect home for them.
The band released that one album, followed by one of the famous “temporary releases” that 4AD Records loved to do. They released lots of “temporary releases” for other bands, and they were all limited release, and they were all hard to get. In some cases, they were only available while the band was on tour. In some cases, they were only available with the first 1500 copies of the CD. In some cases, they were mail-order only. The Swallow “temporary release”, called Blowback was just a bunch of remixes of the album songs. It was mail-order only, and is obviously out of print, but it’s now available as an mp3 download.
Swallow, if I have the story right, had a falling out with 4AD boss Ivo Watts-Russell, and they moved over to Rough Trade Records sometime in 1993. It was a bad time for that once bustling record label, as they were in the middle of bankruptcy. Eventually, Rough Trade was completely dissolved and all its assets liquidated. So Swallow was a promising band without a label. By then, the romantic relationship between vocalist Louise Trehy and multi-instrumentalist Mike Mason had soured, and they just decided to pull the plug on Swallow. Mike Mason went on to become a music video director and is still making music. Louise Trehy moved on with her life doing something else. I always figured that she’d end up in some other band or go solo, but she got out of the business entirely. And she stayed out for nearly 20 years.
I was pleasantly surprised the other day when I got a note from her in the mailbag announcing that she’s back in business.
She recently went through a tough breakup, and started writing songs as a way of getting through it. She claims musical illiteracy, and she did what a lot of the young kids are doing these days — she got a guitar and a four-track machine and just started plugging away. She taught herself what she could, and tried working with other guitarists, but she had a hard time finding someone with compatible vision. Luckily, she discovered a viola player who also plays guitar just the way Trehy likes it.
For now, Louise Trehy is just writing songs in her bedroom set-up and producing the songs DIY-style. There’s really no timetable for anything, but she’s hoping to have enough stuff for an album, and to do it in a proper recording studio. As of now, she’s got three songs posted to her soundcloud page, and they’re all very good. They’re very different from Swallow, and they’re very good.
“Au naturel” by Louise Trehy
I love how fuzzy this is. All of the new songs are. I really love the second guitar when it comes in at 0:19. Trehy’s vocals are buried a bit in the mix, but that’s okay for what’s going on here. In Swallow, the ethereal vibe depended upon her angelic vocals being more in the front of the mix. This isn’t that, though. This is grittier and darker, and it’s fitting for the vocals to be less airy.
I really hate to make comparisons to My Bloody Valentine, but if I didn’t know any better and you told me that this was a rough version of one of Bilinda’s songs that didn’t make the final cut on m b v, I might actually believe you. And you all know how much I love the new album.
For now, it’s just the three songs on soundcloud, but that page should be updating, and with luck, she’ll have a record to release sometime in the not-too-distant future. In the meantime, enjoy those songs and go buy a copy of the Swallow album Blow.