December 2, 2011

North of Northwest: Blackout Beach – Fuck Death





Blackout Beach is Frog Eyes frontman Carey Mercer’s solo project, and its third album, Fuck Death, shares many characteristics with the work of his full band. There are the requisite unintelligible lyrics and obscure cultural references, nods to Agamemnon and “Chinese soldier poems.” There is the deliberate and sometimes frustrating obliqueness. The songs are still abstract and freeform, and sometimes very long (“Drowning Pigs” clocks in at 12:47).

But while last year’s Frog Eyes record, Paul’s Tomb: A Triumph, was a grey morass of sadness, misfortune, and anxiety, Fuck Death is nebulous, floating, more fog than swamp. Its synth-based compositions are open and spacious, allowing you to step inside them rather than carry them like a load upon your shoulders. It’s absorbing and, if I dare use that other “a” word, surprisingly accessible.

Mercer says that the songs on Fuck Death “are deserter’s songs, coward’s songs,” and they contain an appropriate mix of escapism and anxiety. The synths sometimes shine like sea mist, sometimes wiggle over bumpy ground. Upbeat chords reverberate over lines like “War war war war is in my heart.” Sometimes you hear the far-off call of battle horns. It’s witchy and mysterious, fantastical, like an Arthurian forest.

The album’s cohesive mood and fluid transitions make listening a long, immersive, and transportive experience. It’s thirty-seven minutes on the other side of the wardrobe. Mercer’s voice echoes between the tall cliffs like a haunting, but you are safe on the ground below. Button your coat, watch the silver winds blow. Fuck death. Love Blackout Beach. ____________________

Fuck Death is currently streaming in its entirety at