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5.0 out of 5 stars Music for escapists/powerful subtle poetry
There's room for improvement, but I give it a 5 because it was thoroughly wise investment. Repetitive, certainly, but an entirely distict and heavenly mood, YES! I bought 2 CDs that day, one by Joe Jackson the other Mercury Rev, and I threw out the first and laughed in ectasy to the second over and over. This is magical without being silly. It just hits that bullseye...
Published on Oct. 31 2002

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1.0 out of 5 stars Sonic Hogwash
On All Is Dream, Mercury Rev follow the most lovely song they've recorded, the aching orchestral "The Dark Is Rising", with 45 minutes of sonic hogwash. This is not news. Since 1991's Yerself Is Steam (still their best), Mercury Rev have been purveying the new progressive rock with disparate results - the listless Boces, the spacey funk of See You On the Other Side, the...
Published on Oct. 21 2001 by WrtnWrd


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4.0 out of 5 stars All is dreamy, March 7 2007
By 
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
Ce commentaire est de: All Is Dream (Audio CD)
There's always been a sort of fantastical edge to Mercury Rev, even in the bleak grandeur of "Deserter's Songs." But "All Is Dream" takes that edge and pushes it, with its swirling music and songs that talk about dreams, vampires, nite and fog, and "floating in the tides of the moon." It's too subdued to be their best work, but it's certainly still good.

"I always dreamed of big crowds/plumes of smoke and high clouds/But dreams don't last for long," Jonathan Donahue sings wistfully at the start of "The Dark is Rising," a plaintive meditation on how reality and dreams differ. A gentle piano melody swells into orchestral strings, before subsiding back into piano and violin.

That sets the tone for the rest of "All Is Dream," with its plaintive, pretty pop that explodes suddenly into orchestral splendor or fast-driving rock. Soft female voices call out, eerie noises sound, and catchy rhythms are tempered with thick layers of strings, synth and otherworldly lyrics. It sounds like the soundtrack to a very good action-fantasy movie.

They do break from type here and there -- "The Distance From Her To Me" is an almost unbearably cute-sounding pop song, and "Tides of the Moon" is a dark, synthy ballad, where Donahue sounds like a friendly ghost narrating a nightmare. "With prickly little thorns/sharp tiny teeth/they're hungry for the threads/hanging from your sleeve..."

"Deserters' Song" is considered the peak of Mercury Rev's career, and "All Is Dream" is not quite the same. It's more fantastical, less epic, less mind-blowing, and it's positively happy beside its sister album. It's also a bit more peaceful, with moments of yearning and fear, but overall more contemplative.

Jonathan Donahue has a rather unmelodious voice, high and a bit weird-sounding. However, it grows on you. Especially when it's paired with the music here -- strings, mellotron, hammond and French horn all spice up the sprawling rock melodies, which would sound rather bleak and underworked otherwise.

The songwriting is one of the things that had definitely changed from "Deserters' Songs." It has that Ye Olde Rocke'n'Rolle sound, a sort of fantasy vibe, with mentions of entombed pharoahs screaming and "the sun's red gown turns to brown." Despite, I might add, the mention of Leonard Cohen, which I don't really understand.

Mercury Rev's "All Is Dream" is an appropriate title. It does sound like a dream -- a long, wandering, dark and strange dream.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Music for escapists/powerful subtle poetry, Oct. 31 2002
By A Customer
Ce commentaire est de: All Is Dream (Audio CD)
There's room for improvement, but I give it a 5 because it was thoroughly wise investment. Repetitive, certainly, but an entirely distict and heavenly mood, YES! I bought 2 CDs that day, one by Joe Jackson the other Mercury Rev, and I threw out the first and laughed in ectasy to the second over and over. This is magical without being silly. It just hits that bullseye and sends you child-like into ectasy. Mercury Rev is an amazing surprise. Their music and lyrics are a dramedy. When I first listened to it, I could not help but ask, "Am I really hearing this innocence and purity?? I can't be!" Everything is so funny...Jonathan's frighteningly child-like and awkard voice fits the music perfectly! And don't get me started on the lyrics...He's a poet. The first track, The Dark is Rising has shocking ambition and it sounds like a grand movie theme, but it's all ok, because the poetry and sincerity totally buffer it. This music definitely feels like it has you in mind and somehow doesn't seem like it's only their project. My emotions flood and my imagination soars when I listen to this CD, so it definitely achieves its goals. If you're an escapist and like your albums to exist in a vacuum far away and safe from any "scene," you will love this.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent Follow Up!, Jan. 21 2002
By 
Ian Creamer (Dublin,Ireland) - See all my reviews
Ce commentaire est de: All Is Dream (Audio CD)
This latest album from Mercury Rev elaborates and explores the sounds and themes developed on their last album Deserters Songs.I thought it would be difficult to match that album,yet All Is Dream is a very worthy effort.From a track by track point of view it's nearly as good as that amazing album.One of the reasons I wouldn't rate it as highly is that when I heard Deserters Songs the whole sound was a major novelty for me.So I suppose this album has lost that surprise factor-but it's only a very minor flaw.I would say if you liked the last one,you'll simply adore this one too.
The c.d. opens with a glorious orchestral sweepThe opening track is amazing-vast strings and orchestral arrangements,supplemented by Jonathan Donahues voice sounding more fragile then ever.Gentle choral voices build up the atmosphere in a beautiful opening track.The sound of the mellotron reappears in the next few tracks.Track2 has an eerie atmosphere,more fragile vocals and some pretty impressive guitar work-it could have been taken right off Deserters Songs."Chains" has Donohue doing a full falsetto.The drumming is quite dominant with the violins and cello's taking a more peripheral role.There's an amazing break in the song when the rhythm changes and the piano leads into a brief guitar solo,which in turns leads into a string solo.It's a brilliant ambitious piece of music.I found the vocals on track 4,"Lincoln's Eyes" just a bit too fragile for my liking.Then just to counter balance this-Donohue returns on the next track sounding stronger as falsetto is replaced by a deeper sound.It's a really great track,"Nite And Fog".The track sounds really up-beat.The acousitc guitars combine beautifully with more strings-it's one of the most radio-friendly tracks they've done.The next track has a real bolero effect-gentle drumming gains strength and momentum,choirs shimmer in the background,strings grow in volume and all the while the drums build and build to a glorious finale."A Drop In Time"-is another amazing song.The lyrics are incredibly romantic and the whole track has a wonderful feel good factor to it.The musical arrangements are so expressive.At one stage in the 3rd verse the sound is as expressive in a way that I remember the classical piece "Peter And The Wolf"-especially when he describes the subjects as 'two birds in the distance,landing and settling down'.The next track is quite short and is another atmospheric piece of work.The piano moves up and down the scales,before the band arrives and lets it rip.This is as rocky as it gets on a pretty gentle album.The next track sounds quite melancholic to me.Vocals are backed by a single piano for the first verse.Then inevitably the song develops with the sound of strings and woodwind.The last song is quite long and it also builds from a quiet start and a simple arrangement to a glorious fuller sound.It's a great conclusion to a very satisfying album.
It took me a long time to get into this album.When I first heard it I was sort of put off,cos I reckoned it sounded very similar to their last one.I didn't really play it that often-but once I gave it a chance I discovered that it's an album of beautiful melodies,gorgeous arrangements and is 50 minutes of near musical perfection with very few low points.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Complex and fascinating, Jan. 6 2002
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Ce commentaire est de: All Is Dream (Audio CD)
In 1998 Mercury Rev suprised the music world with Deserter's Songs - it was a great album that topped the critic's polls and remained atop my CD pile. The good news is, with perseverance, All Is Dream is an even better, more cohesive record. At first listen All Is Dream did not impress me and on 'Lincoln's Eyes' even repelled me, but by about my fourth listen I was enthralled - I guess the crux of this review is that if you stick with it - the rewards are bountiful. The opener 'The Dark Is Rising' sets the tone of All Is Dream wonderfully, balancing Jonathan Donahue's piano and touchingly inadequate voice against crashing waves of orchestration in an oddly beautiful beginning. 'Chains' is a thrilling song, all purpose and urgency, while 'Nite and Fog' with it's opening couplet "If God moves across the water, then the girl moves in other ways" blows me away every time - more than once during this song has the thought struck me that the Rev are moving on a markedly different plane to other groups. There is a charming naivete to 'Little Rhymes' - it sounds a little inconsequential at first listen, but is in fact quite a moving song far greater than the sum of it's parts; likewise 'You're My Queen' with it's swooning arrangement. For me, listening to All Is Dream is rather like looking at a Dali painting - a surreal experience charged with nightmarish visions and paranoia, but also, and importantly, real beauty.
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5.0 out of 5 stars My album of the year, Dec 9 2001
By 
Ce commentaire est de: All Is Dream (Audio CD)
If you don't know Mercury Rev, you should. This is a gorgeous album. As with Deserters' Songs, you may not "get it" on the first listen. You may be slightly disappointed. Only a couple tracks really grab you at first. But on subsequent listens, when tracks like "Chains" and "Lincoln's Eyes" reveal their subtleties, the album will become a favorite.

"Lincoln's Eyes" is absolutely gorgeous--delicate and creepy and beautiful, like a spiderweb. My insides collapse in upon themselves at that amazing chorus of "Little Rhymes": "And time's...all mine"...oh, you just have to hear how he sings it. And I cannot think of a more perfect song than "Nite and Fog"...well, perhaps "Carry the Zero" by Built to Spill, but certainly nothing released this year surpasses it. Jonathan Donahue has a really great voice, if you like that frail, high Neil Young/Flaming Lips sound. Which I do. Very much. Even my dad likes this album, probably because of the piano and orchestral stuff. He thought the singer was a girl though. Oh well.

This is not my favorite album of all time, but it's definitely the best of 2001, as far as I'm concerned. The Shins at a close second, if you're interested, and Amnesiac tied with the new Built to Spill, third. (Although I haven't heard the new ones from White Stripes, Sparklehorse, or Spiritualized yet. So this list could still change.) But anyway. Now run and buy your own copy of All is Dream. You'll thank me.
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4.0 out of 5 stars interesting, Nov. 26 2001
By 
F. H. Payne (Chicago, IL United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Ce commentaire est de: All Is Dream (Audio CD)
Yes, the Flaming Lips may come to mind when you first pop the cd in but it's primarily because of the squeaky, Wayne Coyne-ish vocals and the proliferation of strings on this release. Musically though, I don't think it's nearly as experimental and it just doesn't flow like The Soft Bulletin. Not knowing what their old stuff is like, I couldn't help but feel like this was some radical departure from what they're used to doing and this was their first stab at this kind of thing. While on their identity quest, they get lost somewhere between 70's prog rock and poppy guitar radio hit. I think it's track 4 that very much reminds me of "Squonk" from Genesis' Trick of The Tail.
That said, I bought it after listening to just the first 2 tracks at a listening station at the record store. It's one of those records where you don't know what to think at first but it sounds really cool and you think there might be a lot hidden under the surface. And there is. Preview a couple tracks; if it sounds like your kind of thing at all, you'll probably like the whole thing.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Another Triumph, Nov. 25 2001
By 
"strangestew" (Bowling Green, KY) - See all my reviews
Ce commentaire est de: All Is Dream (Audio CD)
I give All Is Dream 4 stars instead of 5 only because I don't think it is quite on the same level as Deserter's Songs. It's a great album but there's just something missing for me. Deserter's Songs had an enchanting quality about it that completely captivated me, All Is Dream just misses that same plateau. It is definitely a worthy follow-up to Deserter's Songs but doesn't quite have the same magical charm. But it is still growing on me even after a couple months of repeated listenings, so who knows, maybe a month or two from now I would give it 5 stars. Maybe my problem is that because I was totally enraptured by Deserter's Songs no matter what they put out next I could only be a little disappointed. However, All Is Dream is a great record and is easily one of the year's best albums. The orchestration on this album is scaled down somewhat, but all the little oddities (such as the musical saw) that create a dream-like musical experience are still in place. For a band 10 years plus into their existence, Mercury Rev have added an impressive 5th piece of work to their much under-appreciated musical catalog.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Dreams aren't always Wrong (4 STARS), Oct. 27 2001
By 
JWK "jwk" (Dallas, TX USA) - See all my reviews
Ce commentaire est de: All Is Dream (Audio CD)
For better or worse Jonathan's voice is the most recognizable this side of Thom York's. It will either thrill you to the bone, or irritate you to no end. Either way, Mercury Rev is definitly an aquired-taste band. It's an often over-looked trait of the band, but an important one. When people acknowledge the band's difficult accessablility they too will realize that the individual albums are no more accessable. In essence, if you don't like the album, perhaps you didn't give it time to sink in.
"All is Dream" leaves little middle ground for the listener to stand on. Either you love it or you hate it. Just like the band. And the songs will seem either epic or throw-aways. Going against those notions, it's not so black-and-white for me. Subjectively, "The Dark is Rising" and "Nite and Fog" make it worth the ticket price, and with the strength of the album's concept, make it better than the harolded "Deserter's Songs." True to the title, all of the songs have a certain dream-like quality; mostly light, fluffy, tinkering music sketched in front of artistic orchestration. "Chains" has many of the qualities of a "Deserter's" song, but written better than most of the tracks from the outing. "Lincoln's Eyes" is the strangest, most nightmaric of the album, and is tied with "Little Rhymes" for a 'filler' candidate. But no worries. Case in point, if you like Mercury Rev and "Deserter's Songs," you will like this.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Mercury Rev is born again... Hard., Oct. 16 2001
Ce commentaire est de: All Is Dream (Audio CD)
A lot of Deserter's Songs fans are disappointed by this album. That fits. This is not gratuitously-orchestrated schlock for druggies, with rote "Mean Mr. Mustard" lyrics like "Multicolored gumdrops chase rainbows down the drain," but a defining statement by a band that has taken its sweet time growing up. It was worth it. All is Dream is the most voluptuous night album since the Smashing Pumpkins dropped Adore on the unsuspecting public, and stands as both Mercury Rev's most starry-eyed and focused work to date. Listening to "Lincoln's Eyes" and "Nite and Fog" back-to-back is like being slung out of a black hole into the lightshow at the end of 2001, and "You're My Queen" is a peerless glam corker that could have singlehandedly saved Velvet Goldmine, were it written a couple years ago. Most importantly, Jonathan Donohue turns out a set of consistently naked and personal lyrics that go far beyond the doggerel of years past, alternately inspiring and depressing, but always truthful -- "Hopes and dreams / Plans and schemes / Who cares what they mean? / When they work / It's an amazing thing / When they don't / Who'll hear you scream?" One only hopes that the mysterious "queen" this album was written for isn't a complete clod and can appreciate what she's been given -- pop sonnets worthy of The Bard.

There are many sensible music fans out there who think, who know, that The Soft Bulletin and Deserter's Songs are sloppy, Syd Barrett-damaged dreck that the college kids who love them will outgrow. They are. But this band has redeemed itself in a way you would never have believed possible... once you get past the opening five seconds. You'll see what I mean. I just thank god for MP3 technology, because I would never have given this album a chance otherwise, and it's helped me through some miserable hours.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Solid and on a par with Deserter's Songs, Sept. 27 2001
By 
Ce commentaire est de: All Is Dream (Audio CD)
I found myself actually adjusting to this album faster than I did to Deserter's Songs. By this time I've become accustomed to Rev, and it was easier to get through initially disorienting songs such as "Lincoln's Eyes," "Little Rhymes," and "Hercules."
In the end, all of the songs have captivating features. The only one I still don't like is "Spiders and Flies" -- I don't think Jonathon Donahue's voice was at its best with this song, and the piano melody is just kind of flat.
That said, here's what is so great about this album:
-- Donahue's voice is getting more 'mature' - well, he's probably in his thirties, so this isn't really the right term. But it has less of the squeaky awkwardness with which Deserter's Songs usually scored and sometimes faltered. There's a smoothness to All Is Dream's vocals that feels like a proper evolution from their previous album. It's tinged with that creakiness where it needs to be for emotion. Like on Lincoln's Eyes -- good segue to the next item...
-- "Lincoln's Eyes" - The fact that this album, with this song, was released on September 11th is still creepy in a coincidental way. The pitch and lyrics of the piece are at times haunting, with an unmajestic, detached beauty. This was mentioned in previous reviews.
-- The refrains in songs like "Chains," "A Drop in Time," "Nite and Fog," and "Hercules" are delicious. Sorry I can't articulate it any better. They just are, & that's one of the reasons I'm still smitten with this album.
I'm speaking from the perspective of someone who isn't very acquainted with Rev's earlier stuff such as Boces. I think their progress on this album was positive -- others may disagree with the direction they're taking.
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