Mercir – As Small As The Center
By Wiley Young
“I might fear love or the lack thereof.”
With As Small As The Center, Mercir has put out a compelling set of Ambient Electro-Mope-Rock. The group, which is Zadok (vocals / guitars / lyrics), Joel Eby (keyboards), and Colin Johnson (turntables, samplers), has received numerous comparisons to Kid-A era Radiohead, which is fair. It’s easy to take from their heavy synth use, sometimes weird structures and Zadok’s high, plaintive vocals.
But there are no children cut in half on this one. It’s fun, though, to find (or imagine?) fragments of Violator deep beneath the blips and beats. There’s some meditative instrumental sections reminiscent of Sigur Ros, and the vocal tracks are often isolated from the rest of sounds by their warmth, like in a Bjork kinda way.
The subject matter is generally God-related – as in the search for, or obvious lack thereof, in the physical world. “Fear of the Last Branch” and “Grace” are highpoints, with lines like “I might fear love or the lack thereof” and “the safest place I’ve found is facing down,” that made me hit repeat. But the band’s otherwise articulate synths / sampled beats / reverb swamp and undercut “Off” and “Valediction,” both mid-album tracks, dragging underground everything but the occasionally wavering vocals. “One Battery,” the final, and I think the strongest track of the set, pulls you in one mangled note at a time until you’re disarmed, surrounded, and hit with the most effective and unexpected synth-beat entrance on the disc.
Ultimately, the presentation and delivery of these songs is not as consistent as I’d like. But to come this far after only a year together is impressive, and definitely puts them on my list of bands to watch.
Back in May, Zadok went on record with the LA Daily News, saying of As Small As The Center, “I’m not going to pretend that the album is not about searching for God…or the lack thereof.” Though some may say it’s a naive topic, the record is neither dogmatic nor preachy. Like the man said, these songs focus on the search for God, more than the search for what happens next. And that, of course, is up to you. – (6.8/10)