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All Is Dream


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Audio CD, September 11, 2001
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Mercury Rev ~ All Is Dream

Amazon.com

All Is Dream is Mercury Rev's most fully realized album yet, the ideal follow-up to its predecessor, 1998's acclaimed Deserter's Songs. Like Deserter's, All Is Dream replaces the experimental leanings and noisy guitar wig-outs that marked their early work (especially Yerself Is Steam) with the more subdued (and, arguably, mature) sounds of strings, Mellotrons, and woodwinds. This time, however, their sound has expanded even further, racing to catch up to the band's considerable imaginations. All Is Dream is an album of sobering beauty, boasting layers of lush orchestration that lend a dream-like atmosphere to the proceedings and an epic scope to the songs. Album opener "The Dark Is Rising" starts with a swirl of strings like the beginning of some grand Hollywood melodrama before moving to a simple piano accompaniment, then explodes again into more strings and a chorus of female sopranos. Like dreams themselves, the songs range from the fantastic ("Nite and Fog") and the inspiring ("A Drop In Time") to the downright creepy ("Lincoln's Eyes"), yet all are tethered to reality by the reassuring vocals of frontman Jonathan Donahue. In another decade, All Is Dream would have been considered a "concept album"; for now, suffice to say that it is an album to be savored and appreciated as a whole, for years to come. --Robert Burrow

1. The Dark Is Rising
2. Tides Of The Moon
3. Chains
4. Lincoln's Eyes
5. Nite and Fog
6. Little Rhymes
7. A Drop In Time
8. You're My Queen
9. Spiders And Flies
10. Hercules

Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 11, 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: V2 North America
  • ASIN: B00005NP07
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #226,956 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Doig on January 6, 2002
Format: Audio CD
In 1998 Mercury Rev suprised the music world with Deserter's Songs - it was a great album that topped the critic's polls and remained atop my CD pile. The good news is, with perseverance, All Is Dream is an even better, more cohesive record. At first listen All Is Dream did not impress me and on 'Lincoln's Eyes' even repelled me, but by about my fourth listen I was enthralled - I guess the crux of this review is that if you stick with it - the rewards are bountiful. The opener 'The Dark Is Rising' sets the tone of All Is Dream wonderfully, balancing Jonathan Donahue's piano and touchingly inadequate voice against crashing waves of orchestration in an oddly beautiful beginning. 'Chains' is a thrilling song, all purpose and urgency, while 'Nite and Fog' with it's opening couplet "If God moves across the water, then the girl moves in other ways" blows me away every time - more than once during this song has the thought struck me that the Rev are moving on a markedly different plane to other groups. There is a charming naivete to 'Little Rhymes' - it sounds a little inconsequential at first listen, but is in fact quite a moving song far greater than the sum of it's parts; likewise 'You're My Queen' with it's swooning arrangement. For me, listening to All Is Dream is rather like looking at a Dali painting - a surreal experience charged with nightmarish visions and paranoia, but also, and importantly, real beauty.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 17, 2005
Format: Audio CD
There's always been a sort of fantastical edge to Mercury Rev, even in the bleak grandeur of "Deserter's Songs." But "All Is Dream" takes that edge and pushes it, with its swirling music and songs that talk about dreams, vampires, nite and fog, and "floating in the tides of the moon." It's too subdued to be their best work, but it's certainly still good.

"I always dreamed of big crowds/plumes of smoke and high clouds/But dreams don't last for long," Jonathan Donahue sings wistfully at the start of "The Dark is Rising," a plaintive meditation on how reality and dreams differ. A gentle piano melody swells into orchestral strings, before subsiding back into piano and violin.

That sets the tone for the rest of "All Is Dream," with its plaintive, pretty pop that explodes suddenly into orchestral splendor or fast-driving rock. Soft female voices call out, eerie noises sound, and catchy rhythms are tempered with thick layers of strings, synth and otherworldly lyrics. It sounds like the soundtrack to a very good action-fantasy movie.

They do break from type here and there -- "The Distance From Her To Me" is an almost unbearably cute-sounding pop song, and "Tides of the Moon" is a dark, synthy ballad, where Donahue sounds like a friendly ghost narrating a nightmare. "With prickly little thorns/sharp tiny teeth/they're hungry for the threads/hanging from your sleeve..."

"Deserters' Song" is considered the peak of Mercury Rev's career, and "All Is Dream" is not quite the same. It's more fantastical, less epic, less mind-blowing, and it's positively happy beside its sister album. It's also a bit more peaceful, with moments of yearning and fear, but overall more contemplative.

Jonathan Donahue has a rather unmelodious voice, high and a bit weird-sounding.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Karina on September 27, 2001
Format: Audio CD
I found myself actually adjusting to this album faster than I did to Deserter's Songs. By this time I've become accustomed to Rev, and it was easier to get through initially disorienting songs such as "Lincoln's Eyes," "Little Rhymes," and "Hercules."
In the end, all of the songs have captivating features. The only one I still don't like is "Spiders and Flies" -- I don't think Jonathon Donahue's voice was at its best with this song, and the piano melody is just kind of flat.
That said, here's what is so great about this album:
-- Donahue's voice is getting more 'mature' - well, he's probably in his thirties, so this isn't really the right term. But it has less of the squeaky awkwardness with which Deserter's Songs usually scored and sometimes faltered. There's a smoothness to All Is Dream's vocals that feels like a proper evolution from their previous album. It's tinged with that creakiness where it needs to be for emotion. Like on Lincoln's Eyes -- good segue to the next item...
-- "Lincoln's Eyes" - The fact that this album, with this song, was released on September 11th is still creepy in a coincidental way. The pitch and lyrics of the piece are at times haunting, with an unmajestic, detached beauty. This was mentioned in previous reviews.
-- The refrains in songs like "Chains," "A Drop in Time," "Nite and Fog," and "Hercules" are delicious. Sorry I can't articulate it any better. They just are, & that's one of the reasons I'm still smitten with this album.
I'm speaking from the perspective of someone who isn't very acquainted with Rev's earlier stuff such as Boces. I think their progress on this album was positive -- others may disagree with the direction they're taking.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ian Creamer on January 21, 2002
Format: Audio CD
This latest album from Mercury Rev elaborates and explores the sounds and themes developed on their last album Deserters Songs.I thought it would be difficult to match that album,yet All Is Dream is a very worthy effort.From a track by track point of view it's nearly as good as that amazing album.One of the reasons I wouldn't rate it as highly is that when I heard Deserters Songs the whole sound was a major novelty for me.So I suppose this album has lost that surprise factor-but it's only a very minor flaw.I would say if you liked the last one,you'll simply adore this one too.
The c.d. opens with a glorious orchestral sweepThe opening track is amazing-vast strings and orchestral arrangements,supplemented by Jonathan Donahues voice sounding more fragile then ever.Gentle choral voices build up the atmosphere in a beautiful opening track.The sound of the mellotron reappears in the next few tracks.Track2 has an eerie atmosphere,more fragile vocals and some pretty impressive guitar work-it could have been taken right off Deserters Songs."Chains" has Donohue doing a full falsetto.The drumming is quite dominant with the violins and cello's taking a more peripheral role.There's an amazing break in the song when the rhythm changes and the piano leads into a brief guitar solo,which in turns leads into a string solo.It's a brilliant ambitious piece of music.I found the vocals on track 4,"Lincoln's Eyes" just a bit too fragile for my liking.Then just to counter balance this-Donohue returns on the next track sounding stronger as falsetto is replaced by a deeper sound.It's a really great track,"Nite And Fog".The track sounds really up-beat.The acousitc guitars combine beautifully with more strings-it's one of the most radio-friendly tracks they've done.
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