with Ezra Furman, Landshapes, Mammút & Bella Union DJs
Thu October 15th, 2015
Minimum Age: 18+
Doors Open: 6:00PM
Show Time: 7:00PM
Event Ticket: $25
Day of Show: $30
This is a general admission, standing event.
Mercury Rev [Bella Union – CMJ Showcase]
Bella Union are excited to announce the long-awaited return of US alt-rock legends Mercury Rev whose new album The Light In You will be released 18th September via the label.
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.
The Light In You will be released worldwide on 18th September via Bella Union.
Mercury Rev official site
Mercury Rev on Facebook
Ezra Furman is a guy you want to know all about. That’s why when the Internet was recently invented (ca. 2008?) Ezra snapped into action and began his two-year preparation of his blog. On this blog he will include every single thought that crosses his mind, all the songs he likes, all the bands he likes, all the songs he makes up, and everything he writes including poems prose and grunts.
Basically it’s just about music and poems. Probably just music actually.
Ezra Furman official site
Ezra Furman on Facebook
Ezra Furman on Twitter
In a fickle, hyper-speed age of quick and easy consumption, taking one’s time to evolve seems a luxury. But Landshapes did just that. “We needed time to work things out…we’ve been brewing I suppose…” explains Luisa.
As their previous incarnation Lulu and the Lampshades, they’re probably best known for the viral cup song You’re Gonna Miss Me – over 3 million hits on youtube and counting – but in the ensuing period they’ve undergone a considerable musical metamorphosis.
They have learnt and grown together, four distinctive personalities jostling and pulling, each with their own set of influences and sensibilities – an unlikely alchemy which comes together and makes sense. Broad brushstrokes, big sounds and mournful melodies forged a new soundscape, so that when a typo accidentally billed them as ‘Landshapes’ it seemed an appropriate description for an altogether new sound, and an altogether new band.
Landshapes is the sound of four people in a dingy practice room, building on accidents, listening over and reworking obsessively until every band member is satisfied. An unconventional and serendipitous a process it might be, but it’s crucial to Landshapes overall sound.
Their debut album Rambutan – the name chosen “not so much after the fruit but for the sound the word makes” and produced by Ash Workman is a distillation of songs old and new, re-worked and fine tuned with a deft precision.
In Limbo with it’s stunning video proves a triumphant opening salvo. “It’s always felt like a fighting song both musically and lyrically” says Luisa Gerstein. With images of Bolivia’s Cholita female wrestlers proving a major stimulus whilst recording, Luisa sought them out, travelling to La Paz and teaming up with director Ian Pons Jewell. The resulting film is a dignified response to a “Latin American society where being both indigenous and a woman is a double sub-class” – a celebration of these extraordinary women both in and out of the wrestling ring.
Their unorthodox approach to songwriting is writ large across the ten tracks. Impasse “the oldest song on the record was a tinkery ukulele thing” that became something “bigger and better with the band”; Threads “a lot of ideas that came together in the practice room, has the feel of different parts interjecting like a conversation” and Racehorses “a truculent song” that was to become one of their favourites after Heloise and Jemma developed a new bass and guitar part. Demons acts as a marker of their evolution – “recorded as Lulu And The Lampshades, it felt closer to the sound we were developing and tracks that change in the way it sounds and how we worked together as a band.”
Forthcoming single Insomniacs Club “is cursed” according to the band. “Anyone who gets involved with it gets insomnia. The guy making the video hasn’t slept for days, true story.”
Landshapes take on another dimension in a live setting. With drummer Dan the only constant, multi instrumentalists Luisa, Heloise and Jemma shift seamlessly from one song to the next swapping instruments and vocals with a fluid dexterity. This synchronicity – and their evolution as a band – was helped by some intensive touring under their previous moniker. Weeks spent in each other’s company, experiencing each other’s music and film selections, means – explains Dan – that “you start to absorb what you like and dislike, individually and collectively. Figuring out which direction you’re heading in via shared experience and foggy disparate influences. I think we’re still fine tuning that direction – and that’s good.”
Rambutan was released on Bella Union on June 17th.
LANDSHAPES are Dan Blackett (drums, vocals), Luisa Gerstein (ukelele, vocals), Heloise Tunstall-Behrens (bass, ukelele, vocals, violin), Jemma Freeman (guitar, bass, vocals).
Mammút are melodic and catchy and beautiful and addictive. They are also darker and heavier than you think they are—maybe they tricked you? This is true though: Mammút craft distorted and beautiful lullabies while maintaining a solid grasp on melody and an eternally independent spirit.