My Bloody Valentine were on the verge of a major revolution in 1991. After having abandoned their new wave sound in favour of a denser and more aggressive style, the group had spent the previous two years in the studio crafting their second LP, Loveless. That album would perfect the shoegaze genre and launch the band into notoriety (not least because of the hand it had in bankrupting Creation Records), but the group were just reaching a logical point in their evolution.
Although their early records didn’t feature the hazy atmosphere and insane wash of guitars that made them famous, My Bloody Valentine didn’t arrive at Loveless out of the blue. The band had actually first found their signature sound on the 1988 EP You Made Me Realise. Kevin Shields had already adopted his signature guitars, the Fender Jaguar and Jazzmaster, but he had yet to stumble onto the “glide guitar” technique that he would make famous.
Instead, Shields began experimenting with noise and reverb in a more extreme capacity. “In ’88, I discovered that it was extremely sensitive to velocity and how high you hit the string,” Shields later explained. “You could make huge waves of sound by hitting it softer or harder.” With this revelation, My Bloody Valentine soon began to separate themselves from the scores of new wave and post-punk bands across the UK.
The title track for the EP was where the breakthrough was given its first major vehicle. With a discordant central guitar line, ‘You Made Me Realise’ had enough pop appeal in its chorus to translate beyond the underground. It was a trap, though, because ‘You Made Me Realise’ was all about its apocalyptic middle section. Full of aggressive feedback and ear-splitting noise, the breakdown of ‘You Made Me Realise’ was the apex of ambient nose at maximalist volumes.
When My Bloody Valentine arrived at the Spanish television programme Plastic in 1991, they didn’t play anything from Loveless. They didn’t technically play anything, considering how their entire performance is mimed, but they did give some airtime to ‘You Made Me Realise’. The dichotomy between the energy of bassist Debbie Googe and drummer Colm Ó Cíosóig with the more languid approach by Bilinda Butcher and Shields is humorous to say the least.
Check out the mimed performance of ‘You Made Me Realise’ down below.