All-acoustic album subtly tells story of its making

Rock music is best quick and dirty, with a minimum of thought and opportunity for outside influence. “Ego Scriptor” was recorded over the course of three days, and engineered by Frog Eyes’ head singer/songwriter Carey Mercer. The roughness of the recordings and minimalist arrangements don’t make the recordings any less enjoyable. Every audible click of the stop button and time you can tell the microphone was too close to the guitar tells a story about the process and therein lies the artfulness.

Consisting of acoustic reinterpretations of songs from Frog Eyes’ back catalogue, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think “Ego Scriptor” was just one big ego trip for Mercer. Three albums into a career seems a presumptuous occasion to revisit past achievements. Sometimes songs are deep enough to warrant multiple versions, especially if the intent is as pure as it is here. Frog Eyes albums are breakneck affairs; the lyrics and melodies barely have time to stand still, much less to be fully comprehended by the listener. The acoustic versions on “Ego Scriptor” give these songs room to breathe, unveiling Mercer as an expert crafter of impressionistic lyrics in the school of Black Francis, but with a ear for melody distinctly his own.

All this having been said, “Ego Scriptor” is probably a bad jumping-on point for someone interested in the band. The eccentric breathiness of Mercer’s voice has nowhere to hide in this barebones setting, and could easily turn off the unprepared. Still, it is a great addition to an energetic band’s catalogue, and a challenging but rewarding piece on its own.