For much of their career - certainly since they began exerting a modicum of discipline over their experimental leanings - Mercury Rev have seemed to be scoring movies that only exist in their heads, so it's no surprise to find them at last tackling a real film soundtrack, for Robinson Savary's independent feature about circus performers, Bye Bye Blackbird. The 19 pieces here range from small, moody tone-poems of around a minute apiece - evocative statements of character sketched using a palette of clarinet, glockenspiel, bowed saw and piano - to more substantial exercises of two to four minutes, and one 10-minute centrepiece, "The White Birds". The trilling reed and horn textures give way to the high, keening timbre of glass harmonica, before resuming with the growing tonal colour of a bowed saw and the creepy carnival sound of a calliope. Throughout, the group manages to sustain an atmosphere pregnant with mystery and wonder, tempered by an underlying melancholy.
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