Following the 2009 reissue of the first two Feelies albums (converting a whole new generation of fans and spreading the Jersey group’s influence), Bar-None Records will release the group’s third and fourth records, 1988’s Only Life and 1991’s Time for a Witness, on March 11.
The Feelies have been keeping busy since their “revival,” releasing a new record in 2010 and touring regularly. However, last year, front man Glenn Mercer quietly released an intoxicating and vitalizing instrumental solo album. Christened Incidental Hum, it feels as though it does just that – an album that drifts and hums its way into your subconscious, rich with an aquatic ambiance, echoing the subterranean drone of Brian Eno’s early-to-mid-70s output and Berlin-era Bowie. Fittingly, Mercer covers Eno’s “Here Come The Warms Jets.” Dissonant, droning guitar and reedy ambient organs dominate the tone of this record. There are some well-placed stylistic curveballs, like the touch of flamenco on “Yuma,” but Mercer is given mostly to an atmospheric drift, hovering about.
Sonically, it also reflects Mercer and Bill Million’s old side group The Willies, a short-lived and somewhat secretive project that operated in between the first two Feelies records. Allegedly, it found Mercer and Million sitting on the floor playing guitars laid out flat behind them backed by two percussionists. “The Willies would play in the dark, sitting in chairs,” Mercer was once quoted saying. “We wanted to make this an anti-rock experience.”
He certainly achieves that experience on Incidental Hum, the highlight being “Twenty-Nine Palms,” a vaguely sinister and seductive piece of exotica, where flute oscillates among a duet of droning, hypnotic organ and guitar, while a shaker keeps the beat. It’s cool as shit – have a listen. words / c depasquale
Related / Recommended: The Feelies :: CBGB – NYC, December 14, 1977