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The Mercury Tree - Permutations CD (album) cover


The Mercury Tree


Heavy Prog

3.90 | 109 ratings

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5 stars The Mercury Tree- Permutations

I don't even know where to start here. Microtones, 3 and 4 part vocal harmonies (sometimes more?), angular riffs that don't sound like copies of the 2000 math rock/metal bands that exist already, odd approaches to songwriting, vocals that sound just a little bit like Bob Drake? Heavy sections that bring to mind a desperate alien soul trapped in a human incapable of understanding any of the thoughts created by her mind? Why am I ending these sentences with question marks? Where am I?

I am a dog, tied to a park bench. My owner left me there, hoping that someone would take me home, as he decided to kill himself. He couldn't stand the thought of leaving me alone in that apartment for several days to eventually feast on his dead body. Dogs might be the most loyal animal but even they get hungry. What brought him to this point? It couldn't have been me. As I sit on the park bench, no one comes for me. There's been an outbreak. An attack? People are fleeing the city, frightened. I chew through my leash to get away and sniff the air for my owner. I miss him. I find his body and mourn my loss, but feast anyway. A lost animal in a dead city. There might not be any hope but there is freedom.

This is music that will make you question things. I have never listened to the Mercury Tree before, but this makes me interested to hear anything Ben Spees and company have ever touched. Ben, the guitarist, vocalist and keyboardist, mixed the album himself and deserves some credit for keeping everything sounding organic and clear. The mastering job is surprisingly nice as well. Nothing is over compressed but it still feels loud.

I guess the closet comparisons I could find would be 5uu's, less chaotic PoiL moments, or early Thinking Plague with Ex-Girl style vocal harmonies at times, but this isn't as immediately off-putting as any of those groups. (Though I usually love the off-putting.) In fact, as complex and strange as this album might be, I never find myself thinking that they went too far, and when listening to this entire album it seems apparent that this music could only exist right now. Each over-the-top expression feels justified and never tiring, each influence necessary to create the end result, but far removed from those sounds. There are plenty of moments of reserved beauty, especially towards the end of the album. There are also sections that will leave you without reference points other than to consider odd combinations in your brain. Just stop it. Listen to it.

This is my favorite album of the year so far.

Smurph | 5/5 |


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