Sonic Cathedral are celebrating their 15th birthday this week. That's 15 years from their very first shoegaze club night at the Legion in Shoreditch and since then they've put on tonnes of gigs as well of releasing some classic records on "the label that celebrates itself". To celebrate the occasion Sonic Cathedral are hosting a series of gigs including a special celebration night at the Bush Hall in London on November 15th, featuring a mouth watering lineup of Maps, Mark Peters and James Holden (DJ). They've also just announced the penultimate release in their excellent Singles Club which is a live recording of "Golden Hair" by the one and only Slowdive (the series has also seen releases from Andy Bell (from Ride), Tanukichan, Bdrmm, Luna, Linda Guilala, Topographies, Buffalo Postcard, Perfect Body and Measured).
To celebrate this landmark occasion I've had a trawl through my own record collection and picked out the six records which, I think, prove why Sonic Cathedral are one of the very best labels around.
Probably my favourite of all Sonic Cathedral's releases, this criminally overlooked gem is a 26 minute blast of pure noisy brilliance. It hits the sweet spot between classic pop melody and sludgy shoegaze fuzz in a way that not many artists have achieved since. Dead Mellotron is the moniker of Baltimore based musician Josh Frazier who's output has been scarce at best since 2012, but with albums like this, who needs follow-ups.
Sonic Cathedral are rightly known as the UKs premier shoegaze champions, but anyone who's bought even a handful of their releases would know that the output is far more varied. This is probably the finest of the label's ambient output, a stunning debut with a 23 minute masterpiece at its core. It still amazes me that half of the album is made up of an improvised session that the duo recorded the first time they ever played together. Crazy.
No nonsense, no gimmicks, just complete sonic assault and a surprising amount of clarity. Spectres may have brought along a bit of controversy and some top notch PR stunts to the Sonic Cathedral label, but what they'll be remembered for is sledgehammer-rock like this.
I'm pretty sure there are around 4 different versions of Mark Peters' Innerland recordings, but this one is probably the best place to start. A kind of concept album based around places in Peters' North West homeland, the album is atmospheric and almost euphoric at times, and hinges on Peters' brilliantly ambient guitar work.
Sobrenadar - Rymixes (2019)
Sonic cathedral are no strangers to remixed or re imagined releases but this one is the best of the bunch. Four beautiful, glimmering remixes by a stellar cast of XAM, Slowdive, Gwenno and Mark Peters give a whole new angle to their album counterparts (they all originally featured on the Argentian artist's excellent album y). It also comes on clear vinyl with orange and aquamarine splatters which is in keeping with Sonic Cathedral's habit of releasing lovely looking bits of wax.
Lorelle Meets the Obsolete's fifth and latest album sees them working at the peak of their powers. The Mexican duo are perhaps the epitome of the label, a thoroughly modern retelling of the Shoegaze genre. Released this very year after a four year hiatus, the album delivered their most assured and intense music to date. Proof that the band, and the label are still very much at the top of their game.
Tickets for Maps at Bush Hall are available here.
You can sign up to the Sonic Cathedral Singles Club here.