Reviews

Snowflake Midnight ~ Mercury Rev

Label: V2

Mercury Rev Snowflake Midnight

Few would argue that Mercury Rev weren’t ripe for renovation. Their creative centrepiece – the peak-scaling, out-of-body psychedelic wonder of the late 90s, ‘Deserter’s Songs’ – is what continues even ten years on to steal breath from fans. And though follow ups ‘All Is Dream’ and ‘The Secret Migration’ refined the cinematographic elation of that template, ignoring the more freeform experimentalism of their earlier output, scoring genuine successes and ensuring their dramatic live shows remained essential draws, they became immediately familiar experiences. Jaws and their integrity were troubled with much less frequency. But few can have expected what would greet them when the white sheet was pulled back to reveal what emerged from the cocoon this time around. ‘Snowflake Midnight’ is in a few ways unequivocally Mercury Rev; the philosophical timbre of Jonathan Donahue’s vocals remain untainted, weaving through strands of sound like one of the natural elements, like the woodland talks to you in whispers. Dave Fridmann’s distinctively picturesque rock-face of sound is also still the backdrop, but the foreground twitches and throbs with a new chaos. A looming electronic presence literally beams them to a parallel but exaggerated plot. The underlying dark clouds, malevolence and tension of ‘Runaway Raindrop’ hint at Nine Inch Nails, Orbital, Depeche Mode and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. If they have to have a ‘Kid A’ moment and that isn’t it, the spectacular eight-minute ‘Dream Of A Young Girl As A Flower’ probably is, advancing with the authority of the KLF, fragments of drum n bass weaponry and Leftfield tremors underfoot. While the horizon light of ‘Senses On Fire’ is pure Teutonic Chemical Brothers’ bliss. Praise should particularly given for returning to freeform consciousness of their early days without flailing shapelessly. A very strong and surprising piece of work.

Few would argue that Mercury Rev weren’t ripe for renovation. Their creative centrepiece – the peak-scaling, out-of-body psychedelic wonder of the late 90s, ‘Deserter’s Songs’ – is what continues even ten years on to steal breath from fans. And though follow ups ‘All Is Dream’ and ‘The Secret Migration’ refined the cinematographic elation of that template, ignoring the more freeform experimentalism of their earlier output, scoring genuine successes and ensuring their dramatic live shows remained essential draws, they became immediately familiar experiences. Jaws and their integrity were troubled with much less frequency. But few can have expected what would greet them when the white sheet was pulled back to reveal what emerged from the cocoon this time around. ‘Snowflake Midnight’ is in a few ways unequivocally Mercury Rev; the philosophical timbre of Jonathan Donahue’s vocals remain untainted, weaving through strands of sound like one of the natural elements, like the woodland talks to you in whispers. Dave Fridmann’s distinctively picturesque rock-face of sound is also still the backdrop, but the foreground twitches and throbs with a new chaos. A looming electronic presence literally beams them to a parallel but exaggerated plot. The underlying dark clouds, malevolence and tension of ‘Runaway Raindrop’ hint at Nine Inch Nails, Orbital, Depeche Mode and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. If they have to have a ‘Kid A’ moment and that isn’t it, the spectacular eight-minute ‘Dream Of A Young Girl As A Flower’ probably is, advancing with the authority of the KLF, fragments of drum n bass weaponry and Leftfield tremors underfoot. While the horizon light of ‘Senses On Fire’ is pure Teutonic Chemical Brothers’ bliss. Praise should particularly given for returning to freeform consciousness of their early days without flailing shapelessly. A very strong and surprising piece of work.

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Release: Mercury Rev - Snowflake Midnight
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Released: September 29, 2008

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