Exposé Online banner

The Mercury Tree — Permutations
(Bandcamp no#, 2016, CD / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2018-04-24

Permutations Cover art

Following this band from Portland, Oregon has been very encouraging. The first album I heard was Freeze in Phantom Form (2012), and it presented a young band with a great sound that was a twist on modern prog incorporating elements of post-rock and Porcupine Tree style heavy prog. Since then, each release has moved them forward, and Permutations stands as their best yet, an outstanding melding of math-rock, melodic alt-prog, and atmospheric post-rock. They’ve even started venturing into microtonalism for some added coloration. The rhythms are super-tight no matter how far the riffs venture from standard rock fare. Each track brings new sounds to the table, refusing easy categorization. When they get heavy, they’re really heavy, though the vocals tend to add a gentler melodic touch. When they bring in an acoustic guitar, or an electric with a clean tone, it doesn’t mean they’re going folksy, it’s just another tone color in their pallette. Crazy synthesizer noises that would seem more at home in a Hawkwind or Ozric Tentacles jam provide a touch of chaos over mathy angular riffs, far from the space-rock territory where they would seem a more natural fit. Paring down to a core trio of Ben Spees (guitar, keyboards, lead vocals), Connor Reilly (drums), and Oliver Campbell (bass, backing vocals), in conjunction with frequent touring, has enabled them to produce meticulous music that doesn’t sound forced or technically overbearing. The occasional presence of a guest (on guitar or sax) provides even more variety to an already-diverse sound. The Mercury Tree has carved out a niche in American progressive music that’s next door to Opposite Day, with similarly impressive musicianship and melodic interest, but with their own variation on modern rock that never ceases to impress.


Filed under: New releases, 2016 releases

Related artist(s): The Mercury Tree

More info
http://themercurytree.bandcamp.com/album/permutations

Latest news

2018-09-05
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more

2018-07-31
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more

2018-07-01
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more

2018-06-25
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Apocalypse - Perto do Amanhecer – This is the second outing for this four-piece from Brazil, their first self-titled album from the late 80s still being a vinyl-only release. Their neo-progressive sound and dramatic styling have...  (1995) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues