by Bill Pearis
I remember getting Mercury Rev's Yerself is Steam, putting it in my CD player and thinking, "My speakers are busted." But then I came to realize this was just how the music was recorded: loud and fucked up, strange but kind of beautiful too. The band's second album, Boces, was much the same way, if a little friendlier. Then vocalist David Baker left the band, Jonathan Donahue took over and turned Mercury Rev into a much more listenable (but no less odd) band.
Baker then made an ostensibly solo album in 1994 under the name Shady, getting some help from the UK shoegaze community (Boo Radleys, Swervedriver, Rollerskate Skinny) that kept it strange and noisy... and then he basically stopped making music. Baker produced some bands in the late '90s, but not a peep otherwise.
Until now. Variety Lights is Baker's first new musical output in 18 years, a collaboration with electronic musician Will MacLean. The first taste is, appropriately enough, titled "Silent Too Long," and shows that age hasn't mellowed Baker's desire to make music that sounds like your stereo is fried. (Or your earbuds.) Though keyboard-driven, "Silent Too Long" has Baker's unmistakablly weird warble front-and-center. You can stream it at the bottom of this post.
"Silent Too Long" will be released as a 10" single on Fire Records on Record Store Day, with a remix by Silver Apples on the flip. Variety Lights' debut album, Central Flow, is out in May. Click through for the stream.