Slowdive’s final album, Pygmalion, was a blast of cold, chilly ambient music, far removed from the band’s previous dream-rock sound. As revered as it is now, it was misunderstood at the time, unappreciated for what it was, not highly regarded, and an abrupt end to a once-promising band. Yet Pygmalion didn’t simply come from nowhere, and the recordings found on this project, entitled Zurich, show Slowdive’s leader Neil Halstead’s interest in ambient sounds, while Zurich itself is a Rosetta Stone for Slowdive’s misunderstood final record.
Zurich was a trio, including Halstead, Seefeel’s Sarah Peacock, and Knives ov Resistance’s Tony Wilson, and the recordings are of a very dark, heavy atmospheric nature, fitting in nicely with the work of Aphex Twin, Seefeel, The Orb, and Bark Psychosis. Beats are to be found on “Odessa and “Balem Daz,” but its the ominous drone of “Too Scared to Breathe” and “Tzarist,” alongside the heavenly bliss of “Militia (Dynamic Warfare)” and “A Harsh Truth (Parts I & II)” that really compel the listener to get lost in Zurich’s unhurried waters.
Sadly, outside of Pygmalion, Halstead didn’t pursue this sound. Mojave 3, his post-Slowdive project, would find him turning into a fine singer-songwriter with a flare for hazy, stoned Neil Young-like melody. Zurich may have been a one-off, but it was a wonderful one-off, and well worth seeking out.