There are some labels which I don’t just like, I love them. Like, love them in a ….I need them to exist so I can too kinda way. The bands this label has put out over the years have become some of my absolute favourite go to records. Who am I talking about? Sonic Cathedral of course. It’s in the title innit!
Sonic Cathedral began life as a club night where Nathaniel Cramp would host shoegaze and other dreamy sounding acts to give them a forum. It cannot be under estimated the impact and importance of these nights to the UK shoegaze scene. Cramp was creating a space for the shoegaze sound when all around him had written it off as dead genre. In those early years Sonic Cathedral saw performances from the likes of The Radio Department, Engineers, Mark Peters, iLiKETRAiNS, Secret Machines, Neil Halstead, Spectrum, Maps, Chapterhouse, pretty much every member of Ride ultimately leading to the first show in 20 years from Slowdive.
It was in 2006 that Cramp decided to launch Sonic Cathedral as record label. Initially releasing a series of seven-inch singles from the likes of The Tamborines, Mark Gardner and School of Seven Bells. Since those early days the label has continued on as the standard bearer for the shoegaze scene in the UK and across the world. Let’s have a look at some of the acts who have had their music released by the label over the last few years.
Cramp was quick to spot the potential in this band from Chicago. His keen ear could hear the 90’s aesthetic and gaze influence in their sound and quickly secured their first ever physical single release with ‘Ballroom Dance Scene’ and ‘Sea Life Sandwich Boy’. The band have since released their debut album on Matador records and are busy conquering the world. It all started here though with this pair of magical songs.
Hailing from Malmö in Sweden this trio of diehard shoegazers first met Cramp after a Slowdive show in London. This has led to Sonic Cathedral releasing a single, the self-titled EP and of course, their stunning debut album Pink Noise. If you haven’t heard them before they’re like a fuzzy, dreamy blend of Alvvays, The Cure and Stereolab. Pink Noise is an absolutely incredible debut album and has a really timeless sound.
The Ride guitarist has stepped into the front of stage to release two critically acclaimed albums via Sonic Cathedral, The View From Halfway Down from 2020 and this years Flicker. Bell has carved his own sound with his take on modern pop psychedelia, folk and chiming sixties odysseys. If your only experience of his work is from his Ride back catalogue or his time in Oasis then you really need to check these albums out.
Austrian duo Molly took inspiration from the landscape around their home in the Tyrol in the far west of the country for their sound. Their mountainous and glacial debut album All That Ever Could Have Been is alpine in scale and texture. Each track expansive and immersive, an all-consuming listen and it’s no wonder Sonic Cathedral had to get this album out there.
Sennen fuse the post rock sound with that early 90’s gaze aesthetic to produce a sound that is all their own. Sonic Cathedral reissued their classic debut album Widows in 2021. Remastered and including exclusive additional tracks it was a smash success. They couldn’t have a better home for this release than with Sonic Cathedral.
Former Mogwai collaborator and electronica specialist Martin Jenkins aka Pye Corner Audio is set to release his second album for Sonic Cathedral. After the runaway success of his Social Dissonance live recording of his set at the labels 15th Birthday party at the Social in London, Let’s Emerge is out on 15 July this year. This one is a less shadowy feeling album with Andy Bell featuring on half the tracks fleshing out the sound. His music never fails to excite so make sure you check him out.
Mildred Maude are improvisational geniuses. Able to take a groove and run and evolve it into a 30-minute set which hypnotises and beguiles you as a live band they can’t be beat. Sonic Cathedral managed to get them to bottle that energy and put it out on their sophomore album Sleepover. I caught these guys supporting bdrmm and I was transfixed. If you get the opportunity to see them live grab it! You won’t be disappointed.
Lastly, we have the labels runaway success. Hulls finest, bdrmm. Since releasing their debut album Bedroom they have gone from strength to strength. Gone from playing small venues to supporting the likes of Ride and Mogwai on some of the world’s biggest stages. This band have worked incredibly hard, honing their sound and stage show and it really shows. Their latest release ‘Port’ sold out in under 60 seconds on Bandcamp. That is testament to both the talent of the band and the support and nurturing environment fostered by Cramp at Sonic Cathedral.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list of all the acts on Sonic Cathedral but I do hope it has given you a taste of what they have on offer. Make sure you follow Sonic Cathedral on Bandcamp to check out all these amazing acts and much more. Let’s not forget the legendary Shoegazer t-shirts as well!
I’d just like to say a massive thank you to Nat for all the hard work he pours into Sonic Cathedral. Here’s to many more years to come of pioneering gaze and adventures in sound.
You can follow Sonic Cathedral on social media here ….