Dream pop

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Dream pop
Stylistic origins Pop rock, alternative rock, space rock, post-punk, neo-psychedelia
Cultural origins Mid-1980s, United Kingdom
Typical instruments Vocals, guitar, bass, drums, synthesizers, keyboards
Derivative forms Shoegazing, ambient pop, ethereal wave
Other topics
Notable artists

Dream pop is a musical subgenre of pop rock and alternative rock.


The Allmusic Guide to Electronica defines dream pop as "an atmospheric sub-genre of alternative rock that relies on sonic textures as much as melody".[1] Common characteristics are breathy vocals and use of guitar effects, often producing a "wall of noise".[1][2] The term is often used, particularly in the United States, to describe bands who were part of the shoegazing scene, and shoegazing is seen as a part of dream pop.[3][2][4] The term was first used for this type of music in the 1980s and is thought to relate to the 'immersion' in the music experienced by the listener.[3] In the view of Simon Reynolds, dream pop "celebrates rapturous and transcendent experiences, often using druggy and mystical imagery".[2] Dream pop tends to focus on textures and moods rather than propulsive rock riffs.[5] Vocals are generally breathy or sung in a near-whisper, and lyrics are often introspective or existential in nature.[5] Album art tends to consist of blurry pastel imagery or stark minimalist designs, or a combination of these two styles. The 4AD record label is the one most associated with dream pop, though others such as Creation, Projekt, Fontana, Bedazzled, Vernon Yard, and Slumberland also released significant records in the genre.

History and influences[edit]

In 1970, George Harrison released All Things Must Pass; the album's Wall of Sound and fluid arrangements led music journalist John Bergstrom to credit it as an influence on dream pop,[6] (although the album's producer Phil Spector had already been known for his dreamy, echo-drenched sound by 1964 with the advent of productions such as "Do I Love You?" and "Walking in the Rain").

From the 1980s to 2000s, many bands made music considered dream pop.[citation needed]

Influence over other styles[edit]


A louder, more aggressive strain of dream pop came to be known as shoegazing; key bands of this style were Lush, Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine, Starflyer 59, Chapterhouse, Catherine Wheel, Ride, Medicine and Levitation. These bands kept the atmospheric qualities of dream pop, but added the intensity of post-punk-influenced bands such as Sonic Youth and The Jesus and Mary Chain. Shoegazing arose out of a love for dream pop's textures and moods, at the same time rejecting its more passive tendencies.[7] Shoegaze was initially concentrated in England in the early 1990s. It is a foregrounding of effects pedals over melody.[8]

Further development[edit]

Dream-pop band The Radio Dept. performs in Lima, Peru (October 2006).

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, bands like Sigur Rós, M83, Asobi Seksu, and The Radio Dept. have had the dream pop label attached to them. Groups like these are sometimes called nu-gaze bands.

Dream pop is often credited with providing the creative "anti-rock" catalyst for textural-based musical styles such as trip hop, slowcore, and post-rock.[9] A resurgence of dream pop in the independent music scene also occurred starting in the late 2000s.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Bogdanov, Vladimir (2001) The Allmusic Guide to Electronica, Backbeat UK, ISBN 978-0879306281, p. ix
  2. ^ a b c Reynolds, Simon (1991) "POP VIEW; 'Dream-Pop' Bands Define the Times in Britain", The New York Times, 1 December 1991. Retrieved 5 September 2013
  3. ^ a b Goddard, Michael et al (2013) Resonances: Noise and Contemporary Music, Bloomsbury Academic, ISBN 978-1441159373
  4. ^ Mendoza, Manuel (1992) "Dream pop takes to the road: Swervedriver puts a modern twist on a classic rock image", The Dallas Morning News, 23 April 1992
  5. ^ a b Bogdanov, Vladimir (2001). All Music Guide to Electronica: The Definitive Guide to Electronic Music (4th ed.). Backbeat Books. pp. ix. ISBN 978-0879306281. 
  6. ^ John Bergstrom, "George Harrison: All Things Must Pass", PopMatters, 14 January 2011, http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/135411-george-harrison-all-things-must-pass/ (retrieved 1 April 2012)
  7. ^ Reynolds, Simon (1 December 1991), "Pop View; 'Dream-Pop' Bands Define the Times in Britain", The New York Times (The New York Times Company), retrieved 7 March 2010 
  8. ^ "Genre Profile - Shoegaze". About.com Alternative Music. Retrieved 2012-05-24. 
  9. ^ "Genre Profile - Post-Rock". About.com Alternative Music. Retrieved 2012-05-24. 

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