Mercury Rev – Snowflake Midnight

To many musical pundits the seminal record for experimental falsetto fiends Mercury Rev was 1998’s Deserter’s Songs. As is the way whenever greatness rears to this extent, the following releases are scrutinised and compared to the superiority of the breakthrough. It’s hard to believe that Mercury Rev has been around for 24 years, rising out of the mid –  “80s with a freakazoid sound that blurred the lines between space-pop and psychedelia.

Whilst the band has long been associated with the wider transcendental indie pop scene, the Americans are kings of spinning their own cinemascope grandeur. Big lush musical moments and mind-altering, hypnotic trance-like strings and synths completely mess with your hippocampus – as they should.

Snowflake Midnight is, as always, a considered musical expression from the band. Led by vocalist and guitarist Jonathan Donahue, guitarist Grasshopper (aka Sean Mackowiak ) and Jeff Mercel on the drums and keyboards, the engineering and production qualities of long-time friend and bassist Dave Fridmann complements the band’s sentiment exquisitely every time. Mercury Rev – the 2008 model – continues to evolve as master of its esoteric domain.

Where Butterfly’s Wing introduces us to Roswell-inspired fly-overs of sound, you can taste the magic mushrooms on the lips of Donahue and co. as they float the song through the subconscious. A child’s bubbling laughter trails off into a dreamy dance track before sliding into Senses Are On Fire, with the reverb vocals and shimmering synths replacing sweetness and light with aggressive and bold structures. Here we find some punishing rhythms that turn the record on its head and into the tribal rain dance of the explosive People Are So Unpredictable (There’s No Bliss Like Home).

What you get with Snowflake Midnight is the usual Mercury Rev atmospherics and spiritual flourishes, the abstract drawings of human nature as it both crumbles into a heap and rises, zombie-like, from the earth. Turn on, tune in and drop out with Catskill Mountain’s finest exponents of –  “trippy’ music. Snowflake Midnight is filled to the rafters with intellect, madness and mind control.

Snowflake Midnight is out now.