|Stylistic origins||Alternative rock, ambient, space rock, ethereal wave, noise pop, post-punk, neo-psychedelia|
|Cultural origins||Late-1980s, United Kingdom|
|Typical instruments||Vocals, guitar, bass, drums, synthesizers, keyboards|
|Derivative forms||Shoegazing, ambient pop|
Dream pop is a subgenre of alternative rock. The term was coined in the late 1980s by Alex Ayuli to describe the music of his band A.R. Kane (later, he founded his own Dreampop record label). Shortly after, New York-based music journalist Simon Reynolds used the term to describe the shoegazing scene in the UK. Reynolds is generally credited as being the first critic to use the term "dream pop" to describe a genre of music. In the 1990s, dream pop and shoegazing were regionally dependent and interchangeable terms.
The Allmusic Guide to Electronica defines dream pop as "an atmospheric sub-genre of alternative rock that relies on sonic textures as much as melody". Common characteristics are breathy vocals and use of guitar effects, often producing a "wall of noise". The term is often used, particularly in the United States, to describe bands who were part of the shoegazing scene, and shoegazing is seen as a part of dream pop. The term is thought to relate to the "immersion" in the music experienced by the listener. In the view of Simon Reynolds, dream pop "celebrates rapturous and transcendent experiences, often using druggy and mystical imagery". Dream pop tends to focus on textures and moods rather than propulsive rock riffs. Vocals are generally breathy or sung in a near-whisper, and lyrics are often introspective or existential in nature. Album art tends to consist of blurry pastel imagery or stark minimalist designs, or a combination of these two styles.
Labels such as 4AD (Cocteau Twins, Pale Saints, Lush, Swallow), Creation (My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, Ride), Sub Pop (Velocity Girl), Sarah Records (Secret Shine), Slumberland (Black Tambourine, Swirlies), Cherry Red (Blind Mr. Jones), and Vernon Yard released significant records in the genre.
History and influences
Influence over other styles
A louder, more aggressive strain of dream pop came to be known as shoegazing; key bands of this style were Lush, Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine, Starflyer 59, Chapterhouse, Catherine Wheel, Ride, Medicine and Levitation. These bands kept the atmospheric qualities of dream pop, but added the intensity of post-punk-influenced bands such as Sonic Youth and The Jesus and Mary Chain. Shoegazing arose out of a love for dream pop's textures and moods, at the same time rejecting its more passive tendencies. Shoegaze was initially concentrated in England in the early 1990s.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, bands like Sigur Rós, M83, Asobi Seksu, and The Radio Dept. have had the dream pop label attached to them. Groups like these are sometimes called nu gaze bands. Singer-songwriter FKA twigs, who rose to prominence in 2014, has been described as dream pop.
- 4AD: "The studio-based outfit comprised East London duo Alex Ayuli and Rudi Tambala, who described their music as "dreampop"." A.R. Kane short info
- Nathaniel Wice / Steven Daly: "The dream pop bands were lionized by the capricious British music press, which later took to dismissing them as "shoegazers" for their affectless stage presence.", Alt. Culture: An A-To-Z Guide to the '90s-Underground, Online, and Over-The-Counter, p.73, HarperCollins Publishers 1995, ISBN 0-0627-3383-4
- Pete Prown / Harvey P. Newquist: "One faction came to be known as dream-pop or "shoegazers" (for their habit of looking at the ground while playing the guitars on stage). They were musicians who played trancelike, ethereal music that was composed of numerous guitars playing heavy droning chords wrapped in echo effects and phase shifters.", Hal Leonard 1997, ISBN 0-7935-4042-9
- Bogdanov, Vladimir (2001) The Allmusic Guide to Electronica, Backbeat UK, ISBN 978-0-87930-628-1, p. ix
- Reynolds, Simon (1991) "POP VIEW; 'Dream-Pop' Bands Define the Times in Britain", The New York Times, 1 December 1991. Retrieved 5 September 2013
- Goddard, Michael et al (2013) Resonances: Noise and Contemporary Music, Bloomsbury Academic, ISBN 978-1-4411-5937-3
- Mendoza, Manuel (1992) "Dream pop takes to the road: Swervedriver puts a modern twist on a classic rock image", The Dallas Morning News, 23 April 1992
- Bogdanov, Vladimir (2001). All Music Guide to Electronica: The Definitive Guide to Electronic Music (4th ed.). Backbeat Books. pp. ix. ISBN 978-0-87930-628-1.
- John Bergstrom, "George Harrison: All Things Must Pass", PopMatters, 14 January 2011, http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/135411-george-harrison-all-things-must-pass/ (retrieved 1 April 2012)
- Reynolds, Simon (1 December 1991), "Pop View; 'Dream-Pop' Bands Define the Times in Britain", The New York Times (The New York Times Company), retrieved 7 March 2010
- "Genre Profile - Post-Rock". About.com Alternative Music. Retrieved 24 May 2012.