Wild Mercury Sound

Today's giant cosmic freak-out

John Mulvey

I worry, occasionally, that this blog has started to give the impression we spend our days at Uncut listening to nothing but serious, respectable artists with a good decade or two of critical acclaim under their belts. Of course, we do listen to Cave, and Bowie, and Neil Young, and Cat Power, and a hell of a lot of Grateful Dead at the moment. You might not believe this, but Allan even digs out a dusty Dylan CD from time to time.

But a big favourite these past couple of weeks has been "The Radiant Mirror", a giant cosmic freak-out by the duo of Chris Corsano and Mick Flower. Those who keep an eye on the psychedelic underground scene documented on Uncut's "Comets, Ghosts And Sunburned Hands" comp from last December may have come across Corsano before. He's a hyperactive, intuitive drummer who emerged from the sprawling Sunburned Hand Of The Man collective, and has played on a lot of free jazz, folk and psych stuff with the likes of Thurston Moore and Six Organs Of Admittance.

Mick Flower, meanwhile, is a member of the shadowy Vibracathedral Orchestra, who come from Leeds and who make wild, levitating drones in the style of Sunburned, Jackie-O-Motherfucker. That kind of thing. I first saw them years ago supporting Steve Malkmus and didn't know what hit me.

Anyway, "The Radiant Mirror" (on a little French label called Textile) is their first album together, and it's a monster. Three vast tracks ("Earth", "Wind" and "Fire") featuring Corsano clambering spiritedly over his kit and Flower cranking up a shahi baaja - which, the press-release informs me, is a "Japanese electric dulcimer/autoharp". One one level, it's a pretty free racket, fuzzed-out and heavily improvised with heavy echoes of '60s jazz radicals like Sonny Sharrock.

But at the same time, there's something about this one that makes it accessible to a bigger audience than pure improv fans. It's a quality, maybe, that's inherent in the shahi-baaja's temple drone being played with such aggression, while Corsano's clatter is always dynamic rather than meandering. Basically, "The Radiant Mirror" is kind of meditative, but totally rocks.


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