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Snowflake Midnight

3.8 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Swirling atmospherics and mantra-like lyrics abound on Mercury Rev's newest work ''Snowflake Midnight.'' Recorded almost exclusively in the band's Catskills, N.Y. laboratory, ''Snowflake Midnight'' sees MR continue experiments with laser harps, ad-hoc computer programs and random note generators resulting in a record that moves with grace between avant garde and traditional pop sensibilities. Standout tracks ''Butterfly's Wing'' and ''Senses on Fire'' exhibit the emphasis on letting the music define itself, as free as possible from human interference. Zooming in at nearly any magnification, ''Snowflake Midnight'' appears to be a resplendent fractal folding in upon itself, into something continually new, unpredictable and spontaneous, and yet so subtly self-aware, that it never fails to resemble itself as a whole.

As a bonus, both the CD and the double LP of ''Snowflake Midnite'' come with a download card for ''Strange Attractor'', a full-length instrumental companion album.

Amazon.com

When they emerged from upstate New York in 1989, pundits proclaimed that Mercury Rev were neo-psychedelic guitar gods on par with the Flaming Lips--with whom they shared numerous ties. Snowflake Midnight, Rev's seventh full-length, is an electronic record. Filled with references to forest creatures, it represents more of a change in tools than direction. Longtime associate Dave Fridmann (the 'Lips, Sleater-Kinney) handles the production reins. While all nine selections ebb and flow in volume, like a shortwave radio half-heard in a dream, a few maintain a steadier motorik-meets-disco pulse. Tracks like "Snowflake in a Hot World" and "Runaway Raindrop" could be compared to New Order or the Pet Shop Boys, with a dose of Thoreau. Snowflake Midnight proves that a veteran band can re-write themselves without losing the plot. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 30, 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Yep Roc Records
  • ASIN: B001DOBH0E
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #177,292 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on October 10, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Much is made of the electronics and atmospherics surrounding Mercury Rev, and with good reason: they have embraced an innovative aesthetic as tightly as any band out there. But when it comes down to the basics, electronic innovations do not assure anyone of a good album, and Snowflake Midnight is, most assuredly, a good album.

Song structures are typically loose, with the melodies weaving in and out of a river of sounds, the lyrics bubbling to the surface, heard as if in a dream--velvety one moment, then frighteningly clear the next. The music itself at turns is sublime, noisy, glittering, lovely, and memorable.

The thing that makes Snowflake Midnight such a pleasure, ultimately, is its cohesion. As I try to parse my way through the lyrics, I know there is a lot in here about love, and flowers, and...well, I'm not sure what else...but in the still seconds when the album is done, just before you press the play button again, you somehow feel that it was complete. I'd say that is a pretty good recommendation for anyone.

Now, on to what may be an even greater find--Strange Attractor. You probably know that when you buy this, you get a download link to a second full album. The album, Strange Attractor, is a "companion piece" to snowflake midnight. They are an excellent counterpoint one to another. Where Snowflake Midnight has recognizable song structure, lyrics, and uses electronics as a setting for the songs themselves, Strange Attractor is all instrumental and is a feast for electronic aural soundscapes. The songs are wonderful, mysterious explorations of looped sounds, echoes, grooves that rise and fall. The entire impression is one of immense grandeur and at times loss. Perfect music to drive on a dark night on a winding road--I know because I've done it. Magical. I think I like Strange Attractor as much as Snowflake Midnight, but for completely different reasons.
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Format: Audio CD
For fans of ethereal, blissed out, wall of sound, drug rock, early `90s IDM, MBV, and even Industrial a la Legendary Pink Dots. "Snowflake" reminds me at times of Hermann & Kliene and Ulrich Schnauss as well as Mew's "Glass Handed Kites". This album is alive and exists not to impress by breaking new ground, unless you consider taking existing dream-pop/IDM music moments and making them work together in a focused, pop short song format. Sonically speaking, it's as good as any electronic album in recent memory. Songs seem to be about not feeling alone. For hopeless romantics that really don't want to take anything too serious. I have been a Mercury Rev fan for 10 years and this is as good (and then some) as much as anything by them in the past. Compare anything off the first 3 Mercury Rev albums with this record and the new album sounds so much more focused. "Snowflake Midnight" "sounds" better than any of the previous Rev recordings. The sound mixing may be one of the best jobs I have heard anywhere. Lots of quirky noises than seem to have a life all their own. The melodies are more fractured, which lends it to more subconscious, personal interpretations. The minimal lyrics say as much and more than anything I have heard by them. I also need to say that "Secret Migration" is their most under appreciated release as well as their most focused and alive release....until now. See them live, Jonathan, the lead singer, has a beautiful stage presence than no one can touch. "Snowflake" is a "Kid A" for music fans that not consumed by pretentious, hip, self importance. "Snowflake" follows no trend and does so without attitude. Sounds like it's from another planet compared to what Radiohead and Coldplay are doing right now. I'm happy with Mercury Rev and I can't wait to see them live again!!!
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I must say that I did not find Secret Migration a mistake/strange detour for Mercury Rev. That album was a bit unexpected from me after All is Dream, but it has since turned out to be one of my all-time favorites. It's dreamy, sweet, honest, and the songwriting is absolutely top-notch. Snowflake Midnight is the logical progression. It's challenging, at least after the first few listens, but it mellows and warms over time. The rhythms are at times machine-like and abrupt, but the song structures are quite unique in that they develop as layers over the usual 5 minute mark. There are some great melodies hidden here, believe it or not. It takes a while to hear them.

Make no mistake, this is no Deserter's Songs, but it is something else--another experiment with new techniques and sounds. It's subtle and trippy with an allure that only Mercury Rev are capable of.
I think this is a good direction for the band. It's great to see them trying something new. And why many, including the LA Weekly who've called the CD a clunker, aren't so convinced of the band's new direction, I feel this is a new chapter for Mercury Rev. I just hope they keep making records like the last 4.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Mercury Rev conjures up Musical Magic that's a delight to the ear. This time out using dance beats and electronics, but don't let that scare you off. I found this album a pleasant change with the use of silicone chips than the usual guitar reverb we have come to have known from Grasshopper and Company.
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Format: Audio CD
**Review originally appeared at https://midnighttosix.wordpress.com

Longtime Mercury Rev fans may want to sit down for this one because I’ve got bad news: Snowflake Midnight is a complete disaster and a blight on their discography. I can understand how the lukewarm reception given to 2005’s The Secret Migration – which was definitely weak for them, but not terrible – could cause the band to rethink their musical direction going forward, but the confused mix of avant-garde song structures and studio-bound electronica creations on Snowflake Midnight is the not the answer. Yes, the band that was once kicked off-stage at Lollapalooza for being too loud is now more writing songs based on computer programming and “random note generators” instead of guitars; all of which would be fine if the results were any good, but none of these nine songs has a hook, melody, sound, lyric or vocal worth remembering. While their goal was probably to recapture some of the oddball spontaneity that worked so well on their early records, what they’ve achieved is a potentially career-halting beast of ugly sounds, lame new-age lyrics, and over-stuffed beats. It’s a shame to hear the same band that made 1998’s classic Deserter Songs sound so god-awful. On the same day Snowflake Midnight comes out, the band are also releasing an eleven-song album called Strange Attractor as a free download. If that album is anything at all like Snowflake Midnight then the price is definitely right.
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