on 17 August 2007
"All Is Dream", I am more than happy to say, is a very, very good album. Following in the wake of "Deserter's Song", they had a lot to live up to. Thankfully, they have managed to equal if not surpass.
From the dramatic opening of "The Dark Is Rising", you are sucked into their wonderfully abstract world, full of mystical imagery and incredibly beautiful musical arrangements.
At times the different sounds are like a box of musical fireworks going off and exploding in space with notes and chimes flying off in a dazzling kaleidoscope of patterns.
Again it's that unusual voice of Donahue and the excellent guitar playing of Grasshopper that excel and stand out..............combined with wonderful songs arranged in a grand and sweeping style that are both dramatic and spellbinding.
This is a masterful companion to "Deserter" and yet another CD that simply flows and washes over you time and time again. The ending is also excellent with "Spiders & Flies" and "Hercules" proving to be of really high quality.
This album is eerie and soothing in equal measures. A great chill out and one that doesn't date.
on 9 November 2001
Upon hearing Deserter's Songs I was sure that the sheer beauty and magic could never be bettered. I was wrong. In many ways 'All Is Dream' is a more complete sounding album and a soundtrack to accompany both your nicest dreams as well as your worst nightmares. If you like music that really gets inside you and fills your mind with beautiful imagery then quite simply buy this! In my opinion a record of perfection!
on 4 January 2002
The word I think is most often associated with Mercury Rev is "ethereal". Yet, I can't think of a better word to describe them, they have this elusive, enchanting aura about them, which just makes you want to listen.
This album is easily in my Top 3 albums of 2001, and Lincoln's Eyes is probably my favourite track of this year, it is absolutely, indescribably beautful. Transcendent vocals, searing strings, pondering pianos, all wrapped up in a convincing, yet mysterious package, which is caoted with an air of wistfulness and melancholy.
It is rare to find an album on which I would say there is no bad tracks at all, yet this is such a one. The style is indescribable, ethereal rock is a starter but cannot encompass all there is to Mercury Rev, which is a lot. I urge everyone to at least try to listen to Lincoln's Eyes, Spiders Or Flies, or The Dark Is Rising before dismissing them.
on 16 August 2003
An amazingly honest album.
1. excellent, and superior to others in the same group or category
2. not yet paid, resolved, or dealt with
3. jutting outward or upward
4. All Is Dream - by Mercury Rev
This album is without any doubt the best album I've listened to since the Flaming Lips' "The Soft Bulletin".
I'd already listened to Deserter's Songs, and loved every moment of it. Before buying the album I checked the reviews on this site, and found many of them were negative. Well, a lesson learnt, don't let the opinions of others put you off!
This album far surpasses Deserter's Songs in terms of song structure and accessibility. From dramatic soundscapes (The Dark is Rising) to the beautifully laid back (Tides of the Moon) to the amusingly catchy (Nite and Fog) this album is a treasure and any fan of emotional rock music should at least try it. There's barely any anger in this album, there are no songs which try and make you form a certain opinion on something.. the lyrics are very inward and daydreamy, leaving you open to form your opinion of the person who wrote them. Which makes a refreshing change. A truly outstanding album. I await their next!
on 31 January 2003
There's some good music on here, it's complex, occasionally enthralling and is perhaps reminiscent of King Crimson and other similar 70s prog rock, but more modern and perhaps not as musically talented (no increadible sax, guitar or flute solos to be found here). After purchasing "See You On The Other Side" at about six months ago (my first Mercury Rev album), the comparisons are quite far apart. "See You On the Other side" is so unique and odd at times it really grows on you the more you listen, and still every time I listen to it I seem to discover something new. But "All Is Dream" (my second Rev album) is somehow different, it's more conventional and accessible, especially to first time listeners. There's more of a verse chorus structure to the songs, which perhaps makes the slightly less conventional tracks more contrasting (Lincoln's Eyes for example).
That's not to say it's a poor album though....it is good music. The opener "The Dark Is Rising" is dramatic, yet beautifully simple in the verses. The introduction to Chains is haunting (the acoustic guitar cello and piano for two intro bars and then into a blast of noise where the verse starts). Lincoln's Eyes is strange and tends grow on you. The simplicity of Spiders and Flies is very effective and Donahue's voice comes into its own here, while hercules serves as a soft melancholy ending to the album.
I've given it four stars becuase I don't think it's particularly groundbreaking stuff, but certainly worth a listen if you're either a first time listener to Rev or are already a fan.
on 30 August 2001
It's difficult to describe Mercury Rev's excellent new release without using the following words; 'shimmering', 'ethereal' and 'god-like'. Since these words have been effectively been used to death describing My Bloody Valentine and The Cocteau Twins over the years I'll steer well clear.
Following up the superb 'Deserter's Songs' was never going to be easy, but if anything 'All is Dream' tops it. Ably assisted by production genius Dave Fridmann (The Flaming Lips), the Rev have created a swirling musical journey. It's refreshing to hear the melange of guitars, effects and mellotrons sound intimate and comforting rather than overblown and bombastic.
All the tracks are great, but 'The Dark is Rising' recalls Harvest-era Neil Young and John Lennon at his best. 'Nite and Fog' has a great chorus and is the next single. Special mention must go to 'A Drop in Time' however as it feels timeless yet contemporary. Tony Visconti even does the strings arrangements that remind you of all of the great Bowie albums recorded in Berlin.
More importantly it's a fitting tribute to the original producer Jack Nitzsche (Neil Young, The Rolling Stones, Motown) who sadly died just days before recording.
This CD is like that first love, fine wine and evokes that bitter-sweet melancholy you feel when you say goodbye to your lover at the airport.
Just buy it. It'll brighten your day.
on 24 July 2001
there are a few adjectives that have slipped far into cliche - check out record company ads full of 'stunning' 'cinematic' and 'orchestral'. It's time to reel them out again but this time with feeling.
mercury rev's vision looks back to the 60s with their neil young and buffalo springfield nuances, and then further as jonathan donahue conjurs up images like black and white silent movies suffused with victorian melodrama.
the music moves from full-on film overture (the opening track dark is rising) to the rock-out finale of hercules, a close releative to neil young's hurricane.
in between they get the bow saw out (an old deserters songs favourite) and deliver a handful of potential singles in nite and fog and little rhymes. a typical allis dream song : grasshopper's lyrical guitar lines weave in and out of string arrangements, whilst jonathan sings of spiders in his unique style.
and the whole lot comes in on time like albums used to, with no excess baggage.
a meal in itself, and contender for album of the year, not that it matters
yours, smugly in advance.........
There's always been a sort of fantastical edge to Mercury Rev, even in the bleak grandeur of "Deserter's Songs." But "All Is Dream" takes that edge and pushes it, with its swirling music and songs that talk about dreams, vampires, nite and fog, and "floating in the tides of the moon." It's too subdued to be their best work, but it's still truly amazing.
"I always dreamed of big crowds/plumes of smoke and high clouds/But dreams don't last for long," Jonathan Donahue sings wistfully at the start of "The Dark is Rising," a plaintive meditation on how reality and dreams differ. A gentle piano melody swells into orchestral strings, before subsiding back into piano and violin.
That sets the tone for the rest of "All Is Dream," with its plaintive, pretty pop that explodes suddenly into orchestral splendor or fast-driving rock. Soft female voices call out, eerie noises sound, and catchy rhythms are tempered with thick layers of strings, synth and otherworldly lyrics. It sounds like the soundtrack to a very good action-fantasy movie.
They do break from type here and there -- "The Distance From Her To Me" is an almost unbearably cute-sounding pop song, and "Tides of the Moon" is a dark, synthy ballad, where Donahue sounds like a friendly ghost narrating a nightmare. "With prickly little thorns/sharp tiny teeth/they're hungry for the threads/hanging from your sleeve..."
And there is a very good bonus DVD. On it are a pair of live tracks, a brief and very cute documentary on the band, and some very good music videos for "Nite and Fog" and "Dark is Rising." One is a fantastical whirl that seems halfway between Rip Van Winkle and a fairy tale, and the other is a darker, more surreal one, complete with colorful CGI figures, astrolabes and planets.
"Deserters' Song" is considered the peak of Mercury Rev's career, and "All Is Dream" is not quite the same. It's more fantastical, less epic, less mind-blowing, and it's positively happy beside its sister album. It's also a bit more peaceful, with moments of yearning and fear, but overall more contemplative.
Jonathan Donahue has a rather unmelodious voice, high and a bit strange at times. However, it grows on you. Especially when it's paired with the music here -- strings, mellotron, hammond and French horn all spice up the sprawling rock melodies, which would sound rather bleak and underworked otherwise.
The songwriting is one of the things that had definitely changed from "Deserters' Songs." It has that Ye Olde Rocke'n'Rolle sound, a sort of fantasy vibe, with mentions of entombed pharoahs screaming and "the sun's red gown turns to brown." Despite, I might add, the mention of Leonard Cohen, which I don't really understand.
Mercury Rev's "All Is Dream" is an appropriate title. It does sound like a dream -- a long, wandering, dark and strange dream.
on 6 August 2002
i can understand crtisism of this album in lieu of deserter's songs, as it's obviously not everyone's cup of tea, but it's certainly *my* cup of tea. besides the obvious attractions of songs like "the dark is rising" and "nite and fog", "chains" is outstanding, and "spiders and flies" to "hercules" is possibly the best ending to an album ever. all the songs are excellent however.
the videos on the special edition's bonus cd aren't fantastic (nothing wrong with them either), but it is definately worth getting it just for the three live tracks, especially "the saw song" which is absolutely brilliant.
in short, a good band release a good album which you should buy. now.
on 24 January 2002
This album is my favourite from last year it has a intangible beauty to it. Its opening track, The Dark is Rising, is perhaps the best opener to an album ever. This song encapulates the clever arrangement of tracks make up the album, it is moody and gripping. Other highlights include Nite and Fog and Chains. Mercury Rev in this batch of songs have managed to mix orchestral arrangements with some pumping rhythms to great effect. It truly is a dream.