Mercury Rev

– image courtesy Mercury Rev

Mercury Rev, the great camp “best band in the world,” operatic, and erstwhile band of nature-mystics who sometimes resemble superannuated partypill poppers, releases Snowflake Midnight and makes the album’s companion, Strange Attractor, available for free download on signing up to their mailing-list. Which is interesting as a variation on Radiohead’s web-wise koha release of In Rainbows and David Byrne and Brian Eno’s streaming and direct-online-selling of Everything That Happens Will Happen Today. And interesting artistically.

Strange Attractor has no vocals. It sneaks below the fey-dar. Which Jonathan Donohue’s falsetto immediately alerts on Snowflake Midnight, requiring some kind of realignment of aesthetic sensibility. But of what degree? What kind?

Listening to the two albums, each as a companion to the other, throws into relief not the lyric content but the song content. Some reviews have called Strange Attractor ersatz electronica. But this is where I think the two together engage. And it’s worth recalling that Mercury Rev began life making soundtracks. Because there is a quarter turn here to camp’s full 180 degrees. We arrive back near the Romantic as a vector of electronica, both plus and minus the sentiment, the mawkishness, of fully loaded E eaters: the drug itself is an ersatz and the aesthetic work doubles it, ghosts it, without replacing it. It’s love/nature achieved by the song standing on its own. While, naturally, enjoying the company.