Sunday, August 05, 2007

MM Vol 1 - 053 - A Perfect Circle

MM Vol 1 #053

A Perfect Circle


A Peferfect Circle is one of those groups that should be world famous and if not world famous, then at least respected by anyone who plays music. On their debut release album Mer De Noms the selection of songs are outstanding, with tracks like Judith, Hollow, 3 Libras & Thinking Of You are masterpieces in their own right and overall it makes this album a pure fucking treasure to have.
I know "A Perfect Circle" is/was a difficult set up, with members from Tool, Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails and others but what an artistic accomplishment Mer De Noms is and i'm glad i will have this forever. Just try and take this away from me candy pants!

A Perfect Circle is one of those bands that nobody realized was needed until it happened. A grand claim, perhaps, but there's little question that the addicting combination of Keenan's aching voice and Howerdel's accomplished songs and production skills made for one of 2000's best splashes in whatever was left of "modern rock." That the band had in its initial pre-debut album tours performed an audacious, entertaining medley of Ozzy Osbourne's "Diary of a Madman" and the Cure's "Lovesong" -- regularly matching one's words with the other's music and vice versa -- indicates where Mer de Noms ended up. Howerdel's earlier work with Billy Corgan makes perfect sense as a result, since the Pumpkins regularly fused the extreme theatricality of metal and goth just so, but Howerdel's work is no clone.

His guitar work operates on setting the mood rather than driving everything before it, balancing sheer power with a textured approach that's quite beautiful. Nine Inch Nails-inspired touches crop up in the distorted percussion of many songs, such as "Rose," but for all the derivations everything becomes its own smart fusion, with Keenan's vocals the killer touch. His abilities in delivering on-the-edge emotional collapse had long been clear thanks to Tool -- here, with a slightly different musical bed to carry things, he often holds back from complete explosiveness, but it's still clearly him, just about to crack. His astonishing call-and-response exchange on the single "Judith" makes another high point in his career. The choice of who else to make up the band was a smart one -- Lenchantin's violin and string arrangements add even further to the air of dark, moody mystery, while Josh Freese's abilities on drums once again come to the fore. Alan Moulder adds in some fine help on mixing, polishing the glowering sheen of Mer de Noms to a hard, sharp edge. ~ [Ned Raggett, All Music Guide]
The Truth about Mer De Noms...
Most of the album's lyrics were dedicated to various people that frontman, Keenan, knew. For example, the song "3 Libras" was a song about nine people that Keenan knew that were under the Libra zodiac sign. Maynard states on the aMOTION DVD commentary that the song was in reality about all nine people, but titled the song "3 Libras" to have them argue what "3" it was about. The title of the album is French for "sea of names". The track listing consists of various names such as "Judith", "Breña", "Rose", "Thomas", "Magdalena", "Orestes." Some people consider this a possible motif for the album.
The songs "Orestes" and "Judith" were about Maynard's mother Judith Marie Garrison. She suffered partial paralysis due to a brain aneurysm some 27 years before her recent passing. Judith was very religious and took her plight as a test from God and held resilient in her faith that she believes He (God) would reward her for her efforts. Maynard's mother is also referenced in Tool's latest album 10,000 Days, in "Wings For Marie (Part 1)" and "10,000 Days (Wings Part 2)".
The title of "Renholdër" is a backwards message: If read backwards (including the umlaut), it says Re: D Lohner. This is a nod to the former Nine Inch Nails guitarist Danny Lohner who was in an early version of the band. He works under the pseudonym Renholdër. Also, playing the song backwards, 22 seconds in, Billy Howerder says, in a high-pitched voice, "Hallelujah, Danny Lohner", as heard in this audio sample.
The lyrics in the song "Thinking Of You" refer to masturbating to the idea of anal sex. Keenan explains this in the commentary for the aMOTION DVD. "The Hollow" is also sexual in nature.
"Magdalena" was written about Mary Magdalene, an alleged prostitute by the church who more recently, thanks to extensive research and science, is thought to have been the wife of jesus instead.
The song "Breña" is about Keenan's former girlfriend, Jennifer Ferguson, whose middle name is Breña. [source:wikipedia]
For Smashing Pumpkins see Number 139
For more Smashing Pumpkins see The Def 1000 Songs Number 864, 811 & 680
For Ozzy Osbourne see The Def 1000 Songs Number 744, #516 & MM Vol 2 #138
This song has a crowbarred rating of 80.5 out of 108 pts

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