Too, too many years ago, maybe 20 now, a mismatched gaggle of not-so-merry pranksters coalesced together over a love of drugs, found noise, and outsider art as the collective Mercury Rev, thoroughly blowing the minds of the then-nascent "alternative" nation with lysergic playground shoegaze that was hellbent against being boring. Now to stand out in an ensemble that include a flute-playing burnount named Grasshopper, you really have to let your freak flag fly, and no one did that more in Mercury Rev than frontman David Baker. A mess of frizzy hair and Dadaist rhymes, he was the (Beef) heart of Mercury Rev; when he left amid a storm of recrimination and mystery, the band morphed into the Bad Seeds, but...whatever happened to the real crazy in Mercury Rev?
Years of this and that, and now Baker returns with a deliriously fucked up synth project called Variety Lights. And as much fun as it is to imagine Baker giving us his take on Minimal Wave, Variety Lights is a very different beast. Angular, unpredictable, and nonlinear, Variety Lights is perhaps closest to Eno's nonlinear strategies on Another Green World or White Noise or a Casio remake of maybe Photek, but without sounding anything like either of them. Instead, this is pure audio hallucination from start to finish. Buoyant, disorienting, mantric, and ingenious.