Carey Mercer’s stock may have risen somewhat over the last few years as a result of his participation in “indie supergroup” Swan Lake with Dan Bejar of Destroyer and Sunset Rubdown’s Spencer Krug, but his finest moments have always risen from situations where he has had the spotlight all to his self. Last year’s Paul’ Tomb: A Triumph was the latest in a long line of consistently excellent albums from Frog Eyes, the band the former English teacher formed and has fronted in various incarnations for the past decade, but it’s his solo material, recorded under the Blackout Beach alias, that really showcases the singer’s singular, multi-faceted talent. Two years back, Mercer followed up 2004’s deliciously dark Light Flows The Putrid Dawn with Skin Of Evil, a trippy song cycle about a siren called Donna and the devstating effects of her charms on a multitude of ruined young men. Now comes the project’s latest installment, the charmingly-titled Fuck Death, a collection of what Mercer calls “deserter’s songs” focusing on the “alien concepts” of beauty and war. Recorded using just three synthesizers, two drum machines and one guitar amplifier, it’s a sparse, stark affair whose gaseous drones and clanking, piston-driven beats are haunted by the spirits of Bowie’s Berlin-period albums and Scott Walker’s more recent, avant-garde work. “Haunted” being the operative word: Mercer has never sounded as ghostly as on these bleak, industrial tone-poems. Indeed, whilst his swooping, snarling vocals often call to mind the territorial battle cries of some ferocious wild animal, here Mercer – echoed occasionally by Frog Eyes’ Megan Boddy – seems genuinely pained, howling into the void like the soldiers in his songs, alone on a raft, adrift on a cold, dark sea.
Listen: “Beautiful Burning Desire” http://soundcloud.com/dojagsc/blackout-beach-beautiful
Fuck Death is out now on Dead Oceans