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Mazzy Star So Tonight That I Might See Review

Album. Released 1993.  

BBC Review

A far artier, more abrasive prospect than the totemic Fade Into You suggests.

Andrzej Lukowski 2009

There is absolutely no point in beating about the bush over the fact that Mazzy Star’s second record includes – nay commences with – what must stand as dream-pop’s crowning moment. Fade Into You is a song that has been described many times, forced into romantic context in many a big or small screen venture, yet somehow defies any real attempt to bind it with words.

“I look to you and I see nothing / I look to you to see the truth”; if this really is a love song – and a lot of people have taken that view over the years – then Hope Sandoval’s haunting lyrics posit love as a black, coma-like obliteration. This isn’t a fade into one perfect whole; it’s erasure of the self. Truthfully, though, it’s not clear what Fade Into You is about: Sandoval’s words are cryptic, speaking of emptiness and shadows, some grand psychological disappearing act. It's enigmatic, but almost unutterably beautiful, a languorously uplifting piano figure played over and over, shimmering under lambent slide guitars, something close to yearning in Sandoval’s oft dissonant voice.

It does, of course, unbalance the album, and has certainly given enormous numbers of people the wrong idea about Mazzy Star. Though woozy country trappings and soporific tempos characterise all Sandoval and David Roback’s work, they’re a far artier, more abrasive prospect than the totemic track suggests. So Tonight That I Might See may have less of a bad acid trip Doors vibe than debut She Hangs Brightly, but still: skip to the seven-and-a-half minute title song’s menacing guitar motif, erratic beds of feedback, and Sandoval’s diffuse mumble, and you’re got something more suited to soundtracking Apocalypse Now than The OC.

A cover of Love’s Five String Serenade is the only hooky moment to speak of beyond Fade Into You; this record’s heart lies with the foggy American gothic of Mary of Silence and Blue Light, the woozy, half-asleep country of Bells Ring and Blue Light. It’s an obtuse, atmospheric record, and if it’s inescapably overshadowed by its opening song, then that’s fair enough: nobody writes two of those in a lifetime.

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