Listen to this song by orchestral rock envelope pushers Mercury Rev; ‘Nite and Fog’ as taken from their 2001 album All Is Dream.

Mercury Rev All Is Dream
All is Dream from 2001 was the band’s most ambitious record to date. An attempt to getting legendary strings arranger Jack Nitzsche didn’t work out, due to Nitzsche’s untimely death in 2000. But, it is this classic period in orchestral rock music that the ‘Rev are drawing from here, and the result is clearly Nitzschean. As such, it’s something of a tribute to him, and the era out of which he came.

If rock music’s ambition using orchestral arrangements started as a seed in the mind of Brian Wilson in 1966, then Mercury Rev are watering that garden in the twenty-first century.  And what a lush garden it is, particularly on this song, but on the rest of the album too.

Like Brian Wilson’s vision, this song is brimming with child-like grandiosity and imagination, yet the lyrics are all about loss, as common a thing as adulthood has ever served up.  This something of a sumptuous musical meal, even if there are hints of bitter almond in the aftertaste.  Ultimately, this song is about failure.  But, the failure is so grand, as failure in love tends to feel to the one losing it.

Mercury Rev  had always been interested in music that sounded as though it was the soundtrack to a film only because at one time, that’s exactly why they wrote it – to support their student films.  But here, a film isn’t really needed other than the one that plays in the listener’s head as they take in the songs.  And that’s what I get from this – a collection of songs that seem to suggest a line of narrative, a drama unfolding, even if there is no such clear line lyrically speaking.

When I first heard “Nite and Fog” it felt like a sort of paralysis.   I could not focus on anything other than the sound of the song, and the next line of each verse.  It was like watching a movie, and being completely immersed in the world it created.  It’s been a while since that’s happened.

For more information about Mercury Rev, check out their official site.



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