Tue Sep 2 2008
Photograph: "VK-Red" Duvivier
The Stone; Wed 10
Mercury Rev has spent the past two decades perched in the Catskills, recording songs steeped in psychedelia. Its vague lyrics concern hippie staples like dreams, girls and flowers. (And that’s just one song: “Dream of a Young Girl as a Flower.”) Yet if the musicians exude the whiff of flakes gazing at stars, their music has always reflected prevailing trends, be they roaring guitars and barking vocals (early ’90s) or mellower roots-inflected rock (late ’90s).
Now, Mercury Rev is preparing to release its seventh album, Snowflake Midnight, which finds the group adjusting its sound once again. The amorphous unit is stripped to the core of frontman Jonathan Donahue, percussionist Jeff Marcel and a multi-instrumentalist known as Grasshopper. While the album hardly offers a reinvention, it emphasizes the trio’s experimental tendencies, with rough electronic flourishes evoking Animal Collective as much as Brian Eno.
Snowflake Midnight comes out on Yep Roc September 30—a companion download, Strange Attractor, will also be available—and the band will no doubt play a larger club before year’s end. This intimate show, however, should prove more interesting. At the Stone, Mercury Rev collaborates with Feedtank, a Brooklyn collective of digital artists, as well as Alex Chechile, who uses a “home-built electroencephalograph brainwave machine” to render sounds buried inside the band members’ minds. How embarrassing it will be to find these hippie snobs dreaming of “When I Grow Up” or “I Kissed a Girl.”