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COUNTENANCE

The Mercury Tree

Heavy Prog


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The Mercury Tree Countenance album cover
4.13 | 24 ratings | 2 reviews | 38% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2014

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Pitchless Tone (5:27)
2. Vestigial (5:30)
3. Otoliths (10:55)
4. Mazz Jathy (6:47)
5. To Serve Man (5:28)
6. The Ellsberg Cycle (5:12)
7. False Meaning (4:29)
8. Artifracture (4:05)
9. Jazz Hands of Doom (6:04)
10. Rappel (3:26)

Total Time 57:13

Line-up / Musicians

- Ben Spees / guitar, keyboards, vocals, mixing
- Oliver Campbell / bass (1,2,6,8,10), backing vocals
- Connor Reilly / drums

With:
- Aaron Clark / fretless bass (3-5,7,9), lead (6) & backing vocals

Releases information

CD self-released (2014, US)

FLAC download - Bandcamp.com

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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THE MERCURY TREE Countenance ratings distribution


4.13
(24 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(38%)
38%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(33%)
33%
Good, but non-essential (12%)
12%
Collectors/fans only (17%)
17%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

THE MERCURY TREE Countenance reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars US band THE MERCURY TREE was formed back in 2006, and released their debut album the following year, a production now out of print. They have released new studio albums at regular intervals since then, and the self-released CD "Countenance", their fourth studio album, was released in 2014.

The first association I got when I started to play this album was towards fellow US band Umphrey's McGee. Not because The Mercury Tree is achingly similar to that band throughout, but due to certain similarities in mood and atmosphere in addition to certain musical details that are comparable. There's also something about the relatively easygoing way in which these compositions develop that brings associations of this kind to mind, smooth transitions and elegant shifts, that adds a certain emphasis to this association.

The calmer, light toned and elegant passages that is a recurring feature throughout is of a nature that will strike a chord with fans of Umphrey's McGee, alongside the elegant, controlled lead vocals and soft vocal harmonies. The manner in which these sequencer are so smooth an elegant in execution almost begs for this comparison to be made, at least as I experience this album. It doesn't take all that long before The Mercury Tree starts tuning their compositions though, and while adding a firmer, harder edged expression to the material isn't an unknown feature for fans of Umphrey's either, The Mercury Tree goes about this approach with a firmer hand and tends to add a harder and edgier sound to their compositions when developing towards these territories. In addition they have a stronger affection for quirky, sophisticated instrument movements, tight and controlled at that, that gives the material a bit more of an orientation towards a band such as The Mars Volta. Other features that moves the sound further away from the original association described is the use of odd sounding instrument elements and unusual details, which to me gives many of the composition a slight King Crimson flavoring. With a select few inclusions of nervous, post rock style guitar textures the overall sound on this album expands even further beyond the range of the initial associations that arose when this album started to unfold.

It should also be noted that The Mercury Tree know their way around jazzoriented compositions, as exemplified to good effect on the two instrumentals Mazz Jathy and Jazz Hands of Doom. None of them purebred jazz or jazzrock specimens as such, but both of them compositions where the band gets to showcase that they are very well aware of that style, but opts to explore in what might be described as a tighter and more controlled manner and with a rather more liberal inclusion of non-jazz instrument details and arrangements.

Still, when the time comes to summarize this excellent album, I still return to Uhmphrey's McGee for comparison. That initial feel and association is stuck, and while The Mercury Tree are rather more controlled in performance and execution and rather more expansive in terms of depth and scope, the similarities are still, for me at least, at times striking. The Mercury Tree comes across as a tighter, more controlled and more expansive version of Uhmphrey's McGee for me on this album, without the Americana touches and loose improvisational feel, but with quirkier composition developments and arguably subtly more of a King Crimson tinged take on the music at times. If this description sounds enticing, then this is an album that warrants a check.

Latest members reviews

5 stars The Mercury Tree is a group that I'd always meant to check out, as I heard about their ingenious blend of jazz, psychedelic and progressive rock quite a lot (probably somewhere around the release of their second studio album "Freeze in Phantom Form," back in 2012). Led by singer/guitarist Ben ... (read more)

Report this review (#1301936) | Posted by JohnNicholson | Sunday, November 9, 2014 | Review Permanlink

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