Mercury Rev - Snowflake Midnight

Wow.


 


I almost feel like leaving this review at that one word, but some of you may think that’s lazy of me and besides, if you’ve read Incendiary before then you will understand that we can never just use one word to describe anything, so here’s a few more.


 


Brilliant. Creative. Atmospheric. Transient. Transcendental. Wonderful. Eye-opening. Enlightening. Surprising. Uplifting. Ominous. Tempestuous. Magical.


 


Mercury Rev have never been one for following the crowd. For starters, they live up in the Catskill Mountains so there’s no such thing as a crowd there - unless an army of ants happen to walk by - and secondly, they’re obviously so involved in their own creative journeys that they’ve managed to distance themselves so much from every other band out there that you’d think they came from a different universe. Jonathan, Grasshopper and Jeff, for that is who we should think of as Mercury Rev (perhaps we’ll include Dave Friddman still) have outdone themselves here. Snowflake/Midnight is a fascinating album. It’s unmistakably Mercury Rev and yet it sounds unlike anything they’ve ever done before. They’ve simultaneously managed to retain the central core of their sound while destroying everything that was familiar about them. As a band they’ve taken themselves out of their comfort zones, disguising Grasshopper’s guitar sound, fracturing Jonathan’s vocals and pretty much removing Jeff’s Drumkit altogether, replacing it with a drum machine and the result is remarkable.


 


The level of creativity in this album is awe inspiring. The songs seem to have been cobbled together in a haphazard manner, a bizarre mixture of often contrasting ideas concocted into something that works on all levels. Every song bristles with imagination. Different rhythms float in and out of surreal, almost ethereal electronic keyboards and vocal sections fly around your head like distant memories. It’s truly an extraordinary album to listen to.


 


Mercury Rev have soundtracked large portions of my life so Snowflake/Midnight has some way to go before it establishes an emotional relationship with me as strong as Deserter’s Songs and All Is Dream, but as a work of art? This is unsurpassed by anything else they’ve done. It really is an extraordinary album. Don’t let anybody spoil it for you. Just buy it, slap it on your click wheel thingy or put it in the car stereo and just give yourself over to it. It’s perfect listening for a solo journey but beware, if you set off for work with this in your ears, you may well end up in a place completely unintended, like Paris for example. Snowflake/Midnight is an album like no other and an experience that everybody should open their ears, hearts and minds to. It’s an exhilarating album, surprising you at every turn and delighting you in equal measure. It is, in a word, majestic.


 


Words: Damian Leslie