Percy Howard’s Meridiem

A Pleasant Fiction

A Pleasant Fiction, the second album by local singer-composer Percy Howard’s Meridiem, radiates with an arty, hyper-serious approach to rock once popular in 1980s downtown New York, the kind of music played by people who headphoned a lot of Hendrix and then got PhDs. The lineup here is essentially Howard (Language of Dreams/Sway and Nûs), plus a host of guests: Bill Laswell, Vernon Reid, Buckethead, Jarboe, Happy Rhodes and many more. Howard, when he sings (there are a lot of guest vocalists), is a transcendent singer, and the instrumental backing is smart, shifting colors and shades like ever-changing weather. Stylistically, Howard is a multi-genre shape-shifter; the 10 songs here, one a Tim Buckley cover, may be less than memorable, melodically speaking, but their polymorphic virtues shine anyway.