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Meringue
Music From the Mint Green Nest
Cherry Smash Records

This is one of the most engaging and challenging records I have heard in a while, and I have been trying for a long time to write something sensible about it. Some basic facts first:

Meringue is a quartet based in Gainesville, Florida, and Music From the Mint Green Nest is their second full-length release. There is also a limited edition CD EP out on Cherry Smash. Meringue possesses a vast amount of instruments, including pipes, brass and reeds, and on this record their sound has been further augmented by The Devil's Isle Chamber Ensemble (!), an octet containing strings, tuba and trombone. In my opinion they are unique. And bloody great!

The first time I heard this record I could hardly believe my ears. What is this band up to? And how shall I describe their music to the Luna Kafé readers? Cherry Smash compare them to Thinking Fellers Union Local 282, and to a certain degree I can agree with that, especially in the playful attitude they have to their music. The biggest difference is that Meringue with friends can play their instruments, they are not charlatans like Thinking Fellers (not that there's anything wrong with that), and their music is much more complex (not that there's anything wrong with simple music). Easy listening it's not.

I guess a lot of this was recorded live, and I think that most of their music is written down, cause some of this must be impossible to play without sheet music - try The Anointed Suite that takes up all of side 3 of this record. I imagine a gang of serious, bespectacled, bearded (well, not the girls), classically trained musicians behind music desks and a conductor trying to keep it all together.

Music From the Mint Green Nest contains a vast variety of styles from the Able Tasmans-like pop of Friendship to the mini-suite Big Bright Down with its umpteen themes and breaks. And the tuba-rock lives on on How is the One? I just have to mention some of the titles, they may be the best guide to this record, come to think of it;

Southwest Steamboat Scandal, Schmoufisch and Safari, The Separate Weekend Guise. Now how about that?

As this is my first Meringue record, I can't compare it to their earlier stuff, but I have been told that their first album, Grandma's Supermarket House is more basic and simpler, with references to Captain Beefheart. I can hear few traces of the good captain on this record, but I can assure those only remotely interested in the music of Frank Zappa (1968-72), Mercury Rev (how about a new album?) and/or Gong (1972-75), that you will find pleasure in Meringue's music. Or maybe Olivia Tremor Control, King Of Luxembourg or Electric Prunes as heard on Release Of An Oath? Even Love, Kaleidoscope (US) or Pink Floyd's Atom Heart Mother. Incredible String Band, anyone?

Music From The Mint Green Nest is an album of many facets that I will come back to again and again, and I will discover new dimensions each time. A must.

(As this record is a limited edition, vinyl only double-LP it may be difficult to obtain, but check out Popopdrops, Storgata 132 A, N-9008 Tromsø)

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