The Upshot: Dru Allen and instrumentalist Erick Scheid put their best goth-pop feet forward via layered guitars, ambient synth and soothing vocals.
BY MICHAEL TOLAND
With roots in ethereal goth pop acts This Ascension and Mirabilis, the wispiness of west coast duo Mercury’s Antennae is no surprise. This distinctive blend of layered acoustic and electric guitars, ambient electronics and soothing voices has been Projekt’s bread and butter for a couple of decades now – cf. Love Spirals Downwards, Autumn’s Grey Solace, Mira, Lycia. What sets MA apart isn’t any kind of innovation – it’s simply experience. Singer Dru Allen has been traversing this territory for longer than most, taking her inspiration less from her peers than from forbears like Dead Can Dance and the Cocteau Twins, and she knows exactly how to exploit the shimmering backdrops provided by instrumentalist Erick Scheid with the proper balance of taste and passion.
The Guides ep acts as adjunct to the band’s 2014 debut A Waking Ghost Inside, offering an acoustic take on the LP’s “Agalia” and a brand new tune, the luscious and lovely title track. Even more interesting, though, are the songs that walk further afield. The band puts their own spin on David Bowie’s “Letter to Hermione,” giving the 1969 track a wash of psychedelic guitar gauze and a flickering groove. “They Are With Us” goes for full-on ambient intensity, wordless vocals from Allen and throat singer Luku NetherThot weaving in and out of Scheid’s purring synth swells for eleven mesmerizing minutes.
Though more of a sampler than an actual cohesive statement, The Guides ep makes a good case for Mercury Antennae’s virtues, placing it at the forefront of the movement its singer helped spawn.
DOWNLOAD: “They Are With Us,” “Letter to Hermione,” “The Guides”