So the news is that My Bloody Valentine are back. Not with new material, don’t be silly – those two new records they promised would be done last year are, in fact, not yet recorded, as per the New York Times feature below – but their catalog is back.
All their albums are now up on streaming services – Loveless and Isn’t Anything were always available in North America due to Sire/Warner Bros. holding the rights, but mbv was not and now it is. the ep’s 1988-1991 and rare tracks compilation is still missing/incomplete, but hopefully that’s worked out at some point. And more importantly, the analog remasters of the Loveless and Isn’t Anything – released to great fanfare in 2018 and then almost immediately out of print – will be re-released at non-Discogs prices on May 21 of this year. Plus, their official videos are being remastered and restored on posted on YouTube through the day, so it’s a feast for the senses.
But maybe most importantly, it provides an opportunity to dive into the black hole of the stompbox singularity that is Kevin Shields’ live pedalboard. There’s not a lot of information about his setup from the ’90s – as mentioned earlier this week, the Guitar Geek schematic seemed plausible, but also maybe undersized? If there’s any photographic evidence of what he was running through while touring Loveless, I’ve not seen it.
Their first reunion tour in 2008 was obviously better documented, the best shots of which I’ve seen online are helpfully gathered and annotated at Effects Bay:
A 2018 interview in Rolling Stone Japan also offered a look at what Shields was taking on the road a decade later:
And in 2019, someone posted a shot on reddit/r/guitarpedals of his pedals, now apparently moved en masse to a rack/switcher setup which, while eminently more sensible, is less fun and definitely not conducive to gazing at one’s shoes:
But while this week’s announcement got “My Bloody Valentine teasing” trending, I had a sense something was coming a little earlier. Danish audio system designer Caveman Audio posted this to their Facebook a couple weeks ago, offering the most up-to-date look at Kevin Shields’ pedal setup, now safely stored in rack drawers with a state-of-the-art switching system. And why would Shields be messing around with his setup unless… he was doing stuff?
I’ve saved and shared the shots of the gear here for those not on Facebook.
Because I’m that guy, I’ve annotated the slides, starting from top right: