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Mercury Rev - Boces CD (album) cover

BOCES

Mercury Rev

 

Prog Related

2.99 | 13 ratings

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TCat
Prog Reviewer
4 stars There shouldn't be any wonder as to why Mercury Rev is a group that ventures out into strange territory at times. Two of the members are also members of "The Flaming Lips" who also has a lot of eccentric music that can pretty much go anywhere. Both Jonathan Donahue and David Fridman have had their time with both bands and their ingenuity shows in the music. "Boces" was Mercury Rev's 2nd album and continues the noisy psychedlia and experimentation that was evident in the first album "Yerself is Steam". David Baker fronted the band in both albums, however he left the band a year after "Boces" was released. However, Mercury Rev would continue to exist and move slowly to a more lush sound which also continued to be innovative.

As I mentioned, Boces continues that weird and exploratory feel that the band used in the first album, however, this time more freedom was given to the entire band to explore the tracks, which were written by all members of the band. Someone would have an idea or basis for a song and the band was allowed to improvise and experiment on top of it, until it almost sounded like a different song from how it started. Yes there is a lot of noisiness and busy-ness to the music, but it all makes sense and doesn't go over the top as far as being able to tolerate it. One little bit of trivia, that during the time of this release, the band played at Lollapalooza and were kicked off stage because they were playing too loud.

It all starts with the 10+ minute track "Meth of a Rockette's Kick". Various textures swirl around Baker's pop-ish and dreamy vocals while "bop bop bop" goes on in the background. A sudden squeal of feedback ushers in a wall of noise while Baker continues to sing like nothing changed. The mellowness returns but things seem to be teetering on the edge of sanity and that sanity keeps blowing up. The instrumental break has a noisy guitar solo, but each individual instrument stands out of this cacophony even at its most intense and feedback heavy. Just after 6 minutes, the noise breaks down and we're left with subdued horns/reed messing around before everything comes together in a ragtag New Orleans band sound, but everything still sounds like it's about ready to fall apart as instruments keep venturing off on their own tangents and background vocals keep trying to pull it all together. Another wall of noise gets built as everyone tries to outdo each other and they all get swallowed up in the swirling noise.

"Trickle Down" is an odd duck that features two vocalists singing against each other on contradicting harmonies when a heavy metal guitar riff takes over and blows everything else away while an excited bunch of background singers sing "Yeah yeah yeah". Noise comes and goes while the singing/talking continues. The song is structured, yet chaotic. So much is packed into 5 minutes.

"Bronx Cheer" utilizes processed vocals to start off, but a pop-py yet noisy riff comes right in while John and Jonathan sing in parts. It is so interesting how things have a pop feel to them yet the songs are so strange and distorted and definitely not typical. I love it!

"Boys Peel Out" has a childish vibe to it with some jazz leanings. As usual, everything sounds like its on the verge of insanity. Vocals sound na´ve yet the music going on around it sounds confident. Everything fits together, yet it doesn't. Its like you are listening to a song where everyone can't seem to get on the same page, yet you are sitting there enjoying what you hear.

"Downs are Feminine Balloons" starts out sounding like maybe we are going to get a normal song with strumming guitars and a simple melody, but a slightly off-kilter French horn makes you wonder when things will go south. There is also a nice flute in there too. It all comes together in a swirly psychedelic track, but stays quite mellow this time. After 3 minutes, someone starts to play distorted chords and intensity builds a bit, yet this time, somehow it all holds together. "If there's one thing I can't stand, its up."

"Something for Joey" has a fuller sound which intensifies early on with some unidentifiable instrumental effects. The song has pop sensibilities mixed with chaos. That's the best way to describe it. And flutes are involved.

"Snorry Mouth" is another 10 + minute track. Starting out somewhat peaceful, then becoming suddenly noisy, and then more dreaminess mixed with nightmarish textures. Dual guitars fight with each other during the instrumental breaks as everyone else tries to hold it all together. There is an ambient/noise section later as the music gets experimental and suddenly breaks into its organized chaos again. As the guitars take over again, it all approaches "Kayo Dot" style craziness, then it all falls apart into a quieter section. Now we've finally gone to the other side of sanity as a hundred different sounds individually try to get a foot hold, but nothing succeeds.

"Boats" moves into a more upbeat, melodic territory again with a heavier track with guitars swirling around in an almost shoegaze style while flutes keep things psychedelic sounding against the heavy guitars. "Continuous Drunks and Blunders" is a short track of noise. "Girlfren" is a solo piano joined by a drunk sounding vocalist.

Except for those last two short tracks, this is one of the best noise-pop albums I have ever heard. I'm not even sure if you can call it that. It is definitely hard to describe, but the best thing I can think of is walking along the line of sanity/insanity. And all the while, I find it enjoyable and intriguing. I also know there are a lot of people that feel the same way about it, but it does come off as a little harsh the first few times you hear it. Once you get used to it, you start to hear a lot of cleverness and ingenuity. I know I sort of avoided it at first having come across it after hearing the amazing album "All Is Dream" and deciding it didn't sound anything like that one. But, curiosity kept me coming back to this album until now where I find it completely fascinating. Because of the weak ending where the band feels like they are just taking up time, I can only give it 4 stars, but the other tracks are so amazing and unlike anything else, that I have to give it at least that many stars. This is highly recommended if you are looking for something different, yet challenging.

TCat | 4/5 |

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