THE AH “Mere Husk” (NNA Tapes)

It’s crazy how The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou still jumps to the forefront of my mind nowadays, a million years after it was released [*confirm this]. Director Wes Anderson balances a combination of wry humor and deeply hurt characters throughout the film, leading to a tragicomic modern fairy tale that’s tough to top. (Although Anderson manages to top it with his other movies, but that’s an argument for another forum.) The entire thing is enhanced by the whimsical score of Mark Mothersbaugh, the former Devo dude playing up the mystery and wonder of life at sea but injecting enough of that sense of loneliness that it refuses to take on any maudlin qualities.

Mere Husk maybe then should be retitled The Life Aquatic with Jeremy Gustin, the percussionist (Rubblebucket, Okkervil River, David Byrne, Marc Ribot, Delicate Steve, Albert Hammond Jr. – that list was impressive, I felt compelled to include it) and multi-instrumentalist behind The Ah. Throughout Mere Husk Gustin hammers away at a similar vibe, one certainly augmented by the delightful cover painting depicting Gustin – a sea creature with a human head – among a colorful backdrop of underwater wonders. If one were to slather Mothersbaugh’s original score pieces with a psychedelic pop veneer and aim them directly at the creatures one would find on a Pacific reef, Mere Husk would almost certainly be the result. Gustin’s tones and effects are all submerged, all aquamarine, all bubbling with freshness and life, all caught in a perpetual current. Often instrumental save for a couple occasions (including a spoken-word turn by Yuan Liu on “Factory Girl”), Mere Husk churns through the divided sediment of experience that has settled on the seabed of the psyche.

How’s that for consonance!

Anyway, sure, Mothersbaugh or a more melancholy take on “Under the Sea” by Sebastian the crab. Whimsy overload!