Friday, May 4, 2012

Unusual Instruments: Endlessly

Mercury Rev: Endlessly

 In the age of the sampler, few spend much time thinking about Mellotrons.  Essentially tape replay keyboards with a limit of eight seconds to every loop, their limitation was actually a strength, in as much as the necessity to play the rudimentary samples as notes led to sounds that were far out of the ordinary comfort zones of many bands, let alone audiences.  They were perfect for Prog and Psych acts of the sixties and seventies, but began to fall out of favour as technology overtook them and allowed for slicker, more efficient sampling.

They never lost their power to create shivers, though.  When Mercury Rev released Deserter's Songs in 1998, the first thing that people noticed was how different, how other the album sounded.  How very new.  And the reason for that freshness was the Mellotron, and its astounding knack for bringing a glow to the heart of weirdness, like a kiss on the neck from an old ghost.  Spooky and spooked, voice and ethereal electric choir entwine, leading you again endlessly.  Sometimes, you see, technology just isn't what it used to be: a sampler could never even begin to imbue such chilly warmth.

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