Dream pop

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Dream pop is a subgenre of alternative rock that developed in the 1980s.[1] The style is typified by a preoccupation with atmosphere and texture as much as melody. The term was coined in the late 1980s by Alex Ayuli to describe the music of his band A.R. Kane[2] and later adopted by music critic Simon Reynolds to describe the nascent shoegazing scene in the UK. In the 1990s, dream pop and shoegazing were regionally dependent and interchangeable terms.[3][4][5]


See also: Shoegazing and Gothic rock

The AllMusic Guide to Electronica defines dream pop as "an atmospheric subgenre of alternative rock that relies on sonic textures as much as melody".[6] Common characteristics are breathy vocals and use of guitar effects, often producing a "wall of noise".[6][7] The term is often used, particularly in the United States, to describe bands who were part of the shoegazing scene, and shoegazing is sometimes seen as a part of dream pop.[7][8][9] The term is thought to relate to the "immersion" in the music experienced by the listener.[8]

In the view of Reynolds, dream pop "celebrates rapturous and transcendent experiences, often using druggy and mystical imagery".[7] Dream pop tends to focus on textures and moods rather than propulsive rock riffs.[10] Vocals are generally breathy or sung in a near-whisper, and lyrics are often introspective or existential in nature.[10] Reynolds is generally credited as being the first critic to use the term "dream pop" to describe a genre of music, describing the sound as neo-psychedelic and noting the influence of the "ethereal soundscapes" bands such as Cocteau Twins.[11] PopMatters also noted an evolutionary line from gothic rock to dream pop,[12] while AllMusic stated that the ambient pop subgenre was "essentially an extension of the dream pop that emerged in the wake of the shoegazer movement".[13]


In 1970, George Harrison released All Things Must Pass; the album's Wall of Sound and fluid arrangements led music journalist John Bergstrom to credit it as an influence on dream pop.[14]


  1. ^ Anon (n.d.). "Dream Pop". AllMusic. 
  2. ^ 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
  3. ^ 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
  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
  5. ^ 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 
  6. ^ a b Bogdanov, Vladimir (2001). The AllMusic Guide to Electronica, Backbeat UK, ISBN 978-0-87930-628-1, p. ix.
  7. ^ a b c Reynolds, Simon (1991) "POP VIEW; 'Dream-Pop' Bands Define the Times in Britain", The New York Times, 1 December 1991. Retrieved 5 September 2013
  8. ^ a b Goddard, Michael et al (2013) Resonances: Noise and Contemporary Music, Bloomsbury Academic, ISBN 978-1-4411-5937-3
  9. ^ 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
  10. ^ a b 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. 
  11. ^ Simon Reynolds: "Pop View. 'Dream-Pop' Bands Define the Times in Britain", The New York Times, December 1, 1991
  12. ^ PopMatters
  13. ^ AllMusic
  14. ^ John Bergstrom, "George Harrison: All Things Must Pass", PopMatters, 14 January 2011, (Retrieved 1 April 2012)