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Mercury Rev

Deserter's Songs - 2023 Reissue

    Fully cementing Mercury Rev’s rebirth as purveyors of a cosmic brand of the popular American songbook, Deserter’s Songs is an album of grandiose proportions. Merging jazz, folk, sweeping orchestration, and a dose of 60’s rock, the album was intended as the band’s swan song and therefore made with utter abandon.

    However, it became the band’s most acclaimed platter and remains one of the essential records of the past 30 years. Deserter’s Songs was released to huge worldwide acclaim and went on to be named album of the year in 1998 by NME, MOJO and many other publications, quickly propelling the legendary iconoclasts into living rooms worldwide and pioneered the launch of a new genre of music, heard today in bands like Arcade Fire and Beirut. Available on vinyl once again on the band’s own imprint Excelsior Melodies.

    TRACK LISTING

    1. Holes
    2. Tonite It Shows
    3. Endlessly
    4. I Collect Coins
    5. Opus 40
    6. Hudson Line
    7. The Happy End (The Drunk Room)
    8. Goddess On A Hiway
    9. The Funny Bird
    10. Pick Up If You're There
    11. Delta Sun Bottleneck Stomp

    Mercury Rev

    Hello Blackbird (A Soundtrack By...)

      Debut on vinyl LP for Mercury Rev’s 2006 soundtrack album, HELLO BLACKBIRD. At the time, V2 planned to release this on vinyl but the project never got beyond test pressings.

      Strictly limited edition of 1,000 copies on marbled blue vinyl, with a printed inner sleeve.

      Musically, HELLO BLACKBIRD allowed Mercury Rev to further expand the sonic soundscapes they were exploring with The Secret Migration, with classical and ambient styles (‘The Last Of The White Birds’ reinterpreted Chopin’s Piano Sonata No. 2 in Bb minor, Opus 35 (Marche Funebre)’).

      The album was recorded at Six Hour Studios in Kingston, New York, in mid-2004 and the music was intended as the soundtrack for the 2005 feature film Bye Bye Blackbird, by French director and photographer Robinson Savary.

      Bye Bye Blackbird was a tragic, compelling love story set in a turn-of-the-century travelling circus, with a stellar cast, including Derek Jacobi and James Thierre.

      TRACK LISTING

      SIDE ONE
      1. BLACKBIRD’S CALL
      2. ILLUMINATION BY STREET LAMP
      3. WALTZ FOR ALICE
      4. TRIAL BY WIRE
      5. DAYDREAM FOR NINA
      6. AUDITION SCENE SKETCH (SIMPLY BECAUSE)
      7. THE WHITE BIRDS
      8. JOSEF’S VISION

      SIDE TWO
      1. EYE OF THE BLACKBIRD (TRAVELING MUSIC II)
      2. THE LAST OF THE WHITE BIRDS (MARCHE FUNÈBRE)
      3. CINEMA THEME
      4. FIRST FLIGHT OF THE WHITE BIRDS
      5. THE CHIMPY WALTZ
      6. DEMPSEY’S THEME
      7. FANTASIA NO. 1
      8. ROBERT Y ROBERTO
      9. TRAVELING MUSIC
      10. DEPARTED ANGELS
      11. SIMPLY BECAUSE

      As Mercury Rev began recording their eighth studio album in autumn 2013, when asked what people could expect, co-pilot Grasshopper responded, “Steel Resonator Mandolin. Timpani. Sleigh Bells. All sorts of electric guitars…..” He subsequently added, “It is the best stuff we have done in a long, long time. Gonna be big sounding!”

      Two years on, The Light In You more than lives up to its billing. The record is filled with wondrous and voluminous kaleidoscopic detail, but also intimate moments of calm, and altogether stands up to the very best that this notable band of maverick explorers has ever created. Its ecstatic highs and shivery comedowns also reflect a particularly turbulent era in the lives of Grasshopper and fellow co-founder Jonathan Donahue, of calamities both personal and physical, but also rebirths and real births (Grasshopper became a father for the first time in 2014). There's a reason for the seven-year gap since the band's last album, Snowflake Midnight.

      “It was one of those otherworldly life sequences, when everything you think is solid turns molten,” explains Jonathan. “But also, when something is worth saying, it can take a long time to say it, rather than just blurt it out.”

      As well as The Light In You being the first Mercury Rev album with Bella Union, it’s also the first with only Jonathan and Grasshopper at the controls, as scheduling conflicts and travel between the Catskills and Dave Fridmann's Tarbox studio became too great to overcome. On The Light In You, Jonathan and Grasshopper decided they were best served being based at home in the Catskills for once. Surrounded by longtime friends such as engineer Scott Petito and bassist Anthony Molina, Jonathan and Grasshopper quickly found their stride recording themselves in their own basement studio as well as venturing out into the daylight to record tracks at some of their old haunts like NRS and White Light Studios. The two even found time to arrange backing vocal harmonies and record with Ken Stringfellow at his studio Son du Blé studios in Paris.

      Yet from its title down, the album clearly reflects the core relationship between Jonathan and Grasshopper, best friends since they were teenagers, who accompanied each other through the musical changes, band fractures and exulted breakthroughs that has marked Mercury Rev’s career since they emerged with the extraordinary Yerself Is Steam in 1991.

      “You can go as deep as you want with the title, on a metaphorical, spiritual level, or just poetic license,” Jonathan suggests. “It’s the beacon that shines and allows us to see ourselves – and then there’s the music between Grasshopper and I, which is how we reflect each other. The arc of the album, lyrically, is someone who’s gone through an incredible period of turbulence, sadness and uncertainty, and as the album progresses, a light appears on the water.”

      The album’s track-listing follows a similar trajectory, from the opening slow-build cascade of ‘The Queen Of Swans’, through the epic lonely beauty of ‘Central Park East’ and the album’s half-way peak between ‘Emotional Freefall’ and ‘Are You Ready’ before the closing sequence, with the exhilarating pop beacons of ‘Sunflower’ and ‘Rainy Day Record’ sandwiching the more tranquil ‘Moth Light’. The light is reflected both by the album’s brilliantine colours and imagery drawn largely from the elements and the seasons, creating a world as only Mercury Rev know how. “It’s like taking a drug, but not actually taking a drug,” Grasshopper reckons. “Just sit back and enter and immerse yourself.”

      Since Snowflake Midnight, Jonathan and Grasshopper have stayed productive, for example with their improvised collective, Mercury Rev's Cinematic Sound Tettix BrainWave Concerto Experiment at John Zorn's club in NYC, creating live soundtracks to favourite films at various junctures across Europe (most recently in London as part of Swans’ Mouth To Mouth festival in 2014). There were also occasional festival shows such as headlining 2014’s Green Man festival to celebrate the deluxe version of 1998 opus Deserter’s Songs.

      “Playing tracks again from Deserter’s Songs helped us look at where we’ve been, and where we were going,” says Grasshopper. “Though by no means did we want to make Deserter’s Songs Two, we did feel we had some loose ends to tie up.”As Grasshopper once commented about Deserter’s Songs, “It’s special because that was the one that brought us back from the brink.” The Light In You is special for that very same reason.

      STAFF COMMENTS

      Andy says: Mercury Rev bin the glacial electronics and return to splendor with the sweeping, multi-layered, enchanted sounds of their classic Deserter Songs period.

      TRACK LISTING

      The Queen Of Swans
      Amelie
      You've Gone With So Little For So Long
      Central Park East
      Emotional Freefall
      Coming Up For Air
      Autumn's In The Air
      Are You Ready?
      Sunflower
      Moth Light
      Rainy Day Record


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