November 25, 2012
20: Lilys | In The Presence Of Nothing
[UPDATED] Lilys' In The Presence Of Nothing is a hugely important record for us at Clicky Clicky HQ, one that features some of our favorite songs of all time. Foremost among these is the album closer "Claire Hates Me," but we also strongly favor the icy, narcotic stunner "Elizabeth Colour Wheel" and even the epic instrumental vibe-out "The Way Snowflakes Fall." Truth be told we had grander plans of memorializing the album's 20th anniversary, but the big-deal (to us) piece we had hoped to publish hasn't yet been delivered, so que sera sera. As we have another "20" feature slated to roll early next month, we wanted to make at least some remarks about In The Presence Of Nothing, the colossal full-length debut of the constantly shape-shifting Lilys, before 2012 gets away from us altogether.
In The Presence Of Nothing is a stone-cold shoegaze classic, one so good that, paradoxically, its brilliant execution may have earned it as much dismissal -- due to its strong, unmistakable and unapologetic My Bloody Valentine influence -- as acclaim. It was co-released in September 1992 by two storied labels, the still quite prominent Slumberland and the now sadly defunct Spin-Art, and it bore the dual catalog number DRYL 020 / Spin-Art 2. Band mastermind Kurt Heasley -- who, as regular readers know, continues to occasionally release Lilys records even now -- regularly changes the personnel of Lilys, but for In The Presence Of Nothing he was abetted by members of Velocity Girl, The Ropers and Suddenly Tammy!, as Wikipedia helpfully points out here. The record is long, long out of print, but we are hoping that some sane individual or group of individuals will one day rectify that. In the meantime, copies pop up on EBay now and again, and we were dumbfounded to see today that one completely INSANE individual is currently selling copy number 1 of the first edition of 500 In The Presence Of Nothing LPs, which affords us the opportunity to show you what the vinyl art and package (as opposed to the CD art above) looks like. Image 1. Image 2. Image 3. Image 4. [NOTE: as KF points out in the comments, all 500 copies of the original LP pressing were labeled "1 of 500," so we are slightly less dumbfounded by the above, but still...]
Enumerating the many reasons this record is special to us seems to straddle the line between pointless and self-indulgent, so we'll avoid getting too deep in to the underbrush in that regard. But we will say Lilys' full-length debut is among the records that changed our relationship to music forever, by showing us that excellent music wasn't only made by people you'd never meet in places you could never go. Music could be learned, amazing records could be made in places like Lancaster, PA -- as In The Presence Of Nothing was -- and not just in sterile, thousand-dollar-an-hour studios in New York, Los Angeles or London. That a more-than-reasonable fascimile of the sound on Loveless could be created for what has been rumored to be a tiny fraction of the budget of MBV's magnum opus, by dudes that you could go see play in local clubs: that was a mental game-changer for us. It brought it all home. It gave us the gumption to pick up a guitar, to have a much deeper relationship with music than we had previously. So happy belated 20th birthday, In The Presence Of Nothing. And goddammit, nobody outbid us for that number 1 LP, okay? Download two tunes from the album below courtesy of the very cool people at Slumberland Records.
Lilys -- "Tone Bender" -- In The Presence Of Nothing
Lilys -- "Claire Hates Me" -- In The Presence Of Nothing