Blackout Beach is the solo nom de guerre of Carey Mercer (from Frog Eyes and Swan Lake), and Skin of Evil is his second full-length. Skin of Evil is remarkable in the sense that a. it contains a story, and b. it sticks to the story; a rare occurrence in these free times. “Donna” is the subject, and each of her lovers (past & present) say their peace in song (Donna gets her song, too). Composed, played and recorded entirely by Mercer alone, these songs revel in the dark side of the heady proto-punk Cleveland axis (e.g. Peter Laughner, David Thomas) with a minimal, textural & almost Suicide-ish sense of pop form and the experimental nature of recent Scott Walker works.
Some thoughts / notes on Skin of Evil by Dan Bejar:
– I believe Skin of Evil is the best record I will hear this year, but let’s not get into that.
– A frame of reference for something like this might be:
Goofy American babbler (Jerry Lee Lewis/Dennis Quaid) meets the highest, the most harrowing of modernist Euro nightmare (The Drift ) — By this I guess I mean that there can be no frame of reference, for these two things have never met before, and external forces work hard to make sure they never do, but somehow the sonic space created for this set of singing happened, and feels familiar, doesn’t give me the willies. Maybe it’s ’cause Scott Walker has never hinted at expressing an interest in the traditions of rocknroll guitar (neither does Carey but it can really sound like he must when he plays)
-And unlike J.L.L./Quaid , Carey is not a pervert/showman
– I’ll make no bones, I enjoy the sound of people singing like this. I even like the sound of people talking like this. I also think that this is the best record Carey’s been involved with.
– Note: how good it sounds when Carolyn/Megan chimes in!
-Maybe it’s about a girl, about salvation’s undoing through romantic love, wreckage of this kind — No matter, the important thing is that this is the first time I’ve REALLY heard theatrics AND atmospherics in a record, and so much of both, cept maybe for Roxy Music’s Avalon, which this record reminds me a lot of, if only for how incredibly well you can hear every last thing, which is good, cause every last thing sounds so cool!!
-And though Bryan Ferry’s version of control and release are slightly different than Carey’s, it’s really more just different lyrical concerns, which we’ll here call “worldview”.
– One last thing about theatrics and atmospherics: they are at war (did I already say that?). Theatrics (individual) vs. Atmospherics (the universe) seems pretty straightforward to me as a life model — I keep thinking about this listening to Skin Of Evil, though I’m not sure if this is what the record’s about.
-Also, being fucked over constantly to the point of almost death and then maybe death, by higher powers, like Gods, the jailer (or whoever holds the keys), your local PTA, etc. also: the possibility that you have a small hand in it, this, your doom, a ditch in the rain you don’t just somehow fall into (see, ‘Salad..)
Skin of Evil
Street date: Dec. 02, 2008
01. Cloud of Evil
02. Biloxi, In a Grove, Cleans Out His Eyes
03. William, the Crowd, It’s William
04. The Roman
05. Woe to the Minds of Soft Men
06. The Whistle
07. Nineteen, One God, One Dull Star
08. Three Men Drown in the River
09. Sophia, Donna, I Was Down the River Waiting
10. Astoria, Menthol Lite, Hilltop, Wave of Evil, 1982
BLACKOUT BEACH LINKS:
Press Materials – softabuse.com/press_kits/blackout_beach_press.html