Bluetile Lounge, the best band that never existed.
By Vrishank Menon
The brief existence of slowcore music is the perfect example for the ephemeral of rock music in the pre-internet era. When Codeine signed to Subpop and Red House Painters had become famous enough to have become a staple in the conversations of indie and alternative music, for a brief moment, it seemed like slowcore had come to stay. For those unfamiliar with the term, slowcore is a misnomer – it is far from ‘hardcore’ sonically and perhaps is only united by the ambiguous DIY nature of the bands that reluctantly accepted the term. Characterized by the slow drums, desolate sounding guitars, building post-rock like structures, reverby vocals – in many ways slowcore was an amalgamation of rock music in the nineties.
It is easy to label the 90s as a period of time defined by the big names at the time but I argue that the music of the time is best represented by the bands we’ve never heard – the bands that only existed in the memories of those who happened to be at the show, bands that only existed in limited-run LPs that went out of pressing as the labels became defunct, bands that didn’t happen to be at the right place at the right time. And for me, that’s where Blue Tile Lounge comes in.
Bluetile Lounge formed in 1991, hailing from Perth, Australia and they stayed there for the most part. Influenced by the arising slowcore bands of the US, the band was characterized by slow building drums and guitars, building up the tension as walls of sound and suddenly dropping back down to a slower, droning section. It is almost post-rock like in it’s layering, it is almost emo in it’s sad, melancholy chords. What really holds the band together are the vocals – they are soft and shifting and mixed so low that at times you can’t distinguish the band from the voice. The vocals carry the songs in a sense that is almost literal – they mark changes with their desolate melodies, they blend the guitar parts in with each other.
Bluetile Lounge, for me, was the sonic equivalent of a chase dream, glacial in their pace, never-ending. It sounds like looking out at a half-frozen Lake Michigan and trying to find where the lake ends and where the sky begins, except you can’t. But not a single moment is frustrating, it’s comforting, it’s romantic.
In true 90s fashion, the band only put out two releases, both beautiful from start to finish. As winter comes to the beautiful town of Evanston, I recommend listening to this band, not just for the beautiful music that it spawned but for the sad fact that without the proper PR that bands in the mainstream have, music as skillfully constructed as this, as wholesome as this, can simply disappear from our collective knowledge, never to be heard again. Bluetile Lounge stopped being a band in 1998 and have had their music distributed by Sub-Pop in the US.