Monday, September 7, 2009

Delayed Reactions: Meursault

It has been almost a year since Meursault released it first album, Pissing on Bonfires/Kissing with Tongues courtesy of Song, by Toad, a little less time since I first heard and saw the band doing wonderful acoustic versions of their songs at Toad's house, and a few weeks since I actually got around to downloading the album which has pretty much been in nonstop play mode since getting it.

The basic recipe here is one part traditional Scottish folk music, one part rock band and one part techno-dance mix. Stir. Place in studio. Bake. As with any recipe, you might like one bit more than the other, but they are all important. Some songs are techno-dance heavy, others sound like Scottish folk-rock, then there are wonderful instrumentals and a couple slow ballads--and others sound like all of those pieces magically blended together. And as an album, they do a really nice job of lining up songs so that just when you are feeling a bit worn out by the electronica, you get a beautiful ballad with no techno-sound at all. And to that point, I think the ordering of songs here is just about perfect.
That said, you do have to like all the ingredients here. You have to like the Scottish sound mixed with the rock sound (any Waterboys fan will), and you have to be willing to go with the electronica/techno (my wife would say noise) factor as well.
The lyrics are quite wonderful, albeit sad and searching for the most part. The slow tunes are most notable here. Perhaps the most beautiful song on the album, "Small Stretch of Land," is a perfect example. I always intended to have it as a sample for this post, but since even parents like this tune (and you can hear this great tune at that link), I thought it not very representative of the album and am going to give you some other samples. Still, here is the first verse to give you a sense of the lovely lyrics on this album
It's a beautiful way to get lost
All you need is a bottle and a few nagging thoughts
And a strong sense of all you ever wanted
And the strength to hold it to your chest as you kill it off
Oh, the road it will light up and guide you home
To a place as unfamiliar to you as a soul
There is nothing left now not to understand
And you were lost on such a small stretch of land
The writing on the upbeat tunes are similarly pensive and searching.
Now, one note. I am no engineer, but I assume that some of the "roughness" of the album comes from being a bit of a lo-fi production as the starts and stops are a bit abrupt and there is a certain amount of tape-hiss going on, but ultimately this ends up being part of the endearing quality of the recording. It adds to the feeling that you might be in on the early recording of a band that is going to get more attention in the future.
So for all you Scottish, techno-folk rockers out there who have not heard Meursault, let me be the one to introduce you. First up in the samples is the title tune which is the song I first heard that got my attention and I think well exemplifies the mix of the three basic ingredients on this album. This is followed by "Salt, Part 2" which follows the title song on the album and is a fine example of their slower songs. And lastly, "A Few Kind Words," an upbeat, techno-oriented tune that bops along while the lyrics tell a somewhat less upbeat story.
A Few Kind Words

All and all, quite a fun album that deserves more attention than it appears to have received here in the States.

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