mick mercer -
THE FORGOTTEN AGE
You remember Vernian Process, the largely instrumental brainchild of Joshua Pfeiffer, with its Steampunk explanation and mysteries shot through and through? After the successfully ambitious ‘Discovery’ album, which managed to be gloomy without oppression, here the new voyage is openly oozing confidence, yet with more bizarre couplings from the past.
The version I received included a Depeche cover to open, but that’s obviously wrong and the
album proper begins with ‘Rust (Part 1)’, where bells summon ghosts and a swish, full piece of synthpunk shimmers with epic intentions. ‘The Elegance Of Espionage’ has the necessary filmic sensuality, pulsating with an exciting bass, as ‘Revolt’ remains eagerly compressed, although the vocals can’t be heard properly.
‘Benedictus’ has the monastics going, the rattling percussion and the ominous surround sound, from which the rhythm builds provocatively, into the slinky ‘Dreams Of Persia’ and ticking ‘Zeitgeist’, the music evolving into orchestralpunk, if you will, altogether more seamless and undulating than the last venture, so it’s all gains. ‘Rust (Part 2)’ starts to bring in a modern whisk to raise some dust and sprinkle sparkle on instrumental momentum, and at times it’s like Sigue Sigue Harmonic. ‘Intermission’ breaks things up hazily, and briefly, before ‘The Fading Rain’ unwinds gracefully, like an exotic ethereal annex in a majestically memorable melodic melange - so there! – with a hint of dark steel.
The sampled vocals in ‘Noir’ add a grave detective thriller air over the shifting, gauzy tectonic plates of sound, and for something which is a fairly standard situation, creating drama from film snippets, even though it can’t be easy to do, this is actually quite a magical sequence, bleeding into ‘Where Are The Young Men?’ with a more sober mood, adventurous synth and soft patterns swirling. Quite why it then drifts into a whey-faced, quavering cover of ‘Atmosphere’ I have no idea. It sounds slightly warped which is nice, then everything saunters into ‘Switchback’ and is swung around by the slicker mood and wandering train sounds. ‘The Final Reflections’ then bring us towards a picturesque, sturdy finish, with a final retreat into a coolly sanguine ‘Rust (Part 3)’ and our journey is complete – not tht I’m now sure I have the titles right because I lost the rear artwork and I see from the website that the final song order did change.
I have no idea whether there is a story implied, but as a piece of music which ebbs and flows seamlessly, with more than enough to entice through sumptuous grace and smeared temper, it’s very impressive. The musical landscape and signposts will doubtless appear familiar but you’ll soon lose yourself in it quite happily, not caring that you don’t really know where you are.
Very happy you enjoyed the album Mick!
I am still unhappy with various aspects of it, but I am trying my best to start filling in the little gaps, and tweaking things till I feel they are right.
But overall I felt it was a large step forward in my progression.
I am also very glad to see that you got alot of the intended impressions with the various tracks. There is no overall story behind the album, more of a bunch of snippets of individual stories. Actually Zeitgeist and Elegance of Espionage belong in the same Victorian Super Spy story arc. Noir obviously is an homage to Film Noir (with a nod to some more modern noir as well), the three part Rust belongs in the same story involving a god-like mechanical titan, and Revolt is supposed to be an old school EBM (242, Nitzer Ebb) inspired track. As Rust (2)'s primary influence was Ministry (Twitch era), and Killing Joke. These are all intended to go along with visuals at the very least. It's just something that requires assistance and a budget.
Actually perhaps you could offer some advice on this... I am considering finding an Agent, but I have no idea how to go about it, and I don't even think I could afford one. Also I've sent discs out to various labels, and was wondering if I should make sure they got the discs, or at least drop them a line to follow up. I'm just not sure if that's something labels get annoyed by or not?
To answer some of your questions:
The DM cover at the beginning was intended to be a track that would be instantly familiar to most people, thus grabbing their attention for the rest of the album. While also stating one of the key influences of my work. I have decided to remove it though, and create a new piece of short introductory music to segue into Rust (1). I'll probably try and release my covers EP at some point, but I haven't fully fleshed that one out yet (the vox are still rather weak.)
Also I noticed that you said that the Intermission piece segued into The Fading Rain, I thought Engelorum was supposed to fall between those two tracks. That one is my first homage to In the Nursery (and coincidentally, Klive told me he thought it was excellent). Oh and I don't know if you were aware but "Where are the Young Men", was that song I mentioned in our interview last year. The one I worked on with Colin from Durutii Column. It's a memorial for our friends that have passed away. I had a friend pass very near to the time I started working with him, so that was my little piece of art dedicated to him. And Colin had just finished a biography on Martin Hannet (who was a close friend of his). It was really neat because the epic scope of emotions involved really helped me put everything into the music.
Anyways, I think I've written enough for now. Thanks again! And I just picked up some new music programs so I will start having a very different sound (for the better).
Oh and I included Atmosphere, because that was the song that Colin heard that inspired him to ask me to work with him. The two tracks are supposed to be in the same mindset. Where Are the Young Men is kind of a distant cousin of Atmosphere. And the Atmosphere cover is supposed to have a kind of drugged out haze to it. That's why it sounds warped. Anyways.. I think I'll just post some background info on all of these pieces soon, and send you the link if you would like to know more about the backstory. Thanks again!