Mercury

Winter

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This quintet alerts you with creative CD packaging (artistic side-foldouts you don't anticipate) that you're in for music that will also strike out on its own path. Discordant, chunky, speakers-filling post-punk is now past its 20th birthday (since, I don't know, the early Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire?), but the nature of the genre is that it can expand its vision in endless sonic dimensions. Mercury bring righteous aggression in its choleric but pliable rhythm section, Jimmy Shields' guitar lacerations (the former Rollerskate Skinny player and brother of My Bloody Valentine mastermind Kevin Shields also uses more reverb and delay explorations than purists of the form, which adds multi-layers, and he plays plenty of lissome parts), and Jon Bower's distorted vocals, which are sung, not shouted. The end result would hint mostly of disturbing nightmare, but for the inspired Moog work of drummer Andrew Myers and the extraterrestrial polyphonics of his brother Josh. Like the Comsat Angels' Andy Peake, these two lurk in backgrounds, throwing long shadows before emerging in rapt attack or just showing their fangs. Or, like Brian Eno, they can deliberate betwixt a bountiful violin, like on the surprise lull of "Slowdance." This abundant breadth of moods makes the aptly named Winter one of the most unique LPs around -- in a time of formulaic indie rock, punk, electronica, swing, ska, you name it. You can't pigeonhole this clan, but neither can you escape their desire to drill a hole in your nervous system, with fire or with ice. (P.O. Box 9, Payallup, WA 98371)

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