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Album Review: Mercury Fountain by The Physics House Band

The Physics House Band release their new album, Mercury Fountain, on 21st April via Small Pond Recordings. Categorised as a “mini-album” by the band themselves, this is bigger, bolder, more experimental and expansive than anything else this year.

The Physics House Band are something you must hear to believe, creating avant-garde compositions that capture everything from jazz to prog to psych to tech-metal to math-rock, all combined and executed to perfection.

Named after a sculpture by Alexander Calder, the record is about a hallucinogenic journey through the mind, parallel universes and the astral plane, using the allegory of diving into a Mercury Fountain. The first half focusses on exploring different realms, scenes and situations – gaining knowledge and understanding as you go. The second half of the record embarks on an intense journey through fury, violence, madness and bliss, using all the knowledge and understanding gained in the first half. The album ends the same way that it begins: emerging from the Mercury Fountain, only to dive straight back in.

Recorded with Joel Magill & Raven Bush at Wicker Studios in Kent, Mercury Fountain uses a wealth of vintage microphones, amplifiers, drum sets and synthesisers, featuring a Wurlitzer, a couple of 70s Moogs, a roland string RS202, and even a bizarre Russian Moog copy. For The Physics House Band, experimentation is key and a large part of the recording and writing process. The group had a little help from their friends to create Mercury Fountain, with Raven Bush on violin, ‘Biscuit’ on jazz flute and ‘Willy G’ on saxophone.

It’s not an album for the faint hearted, there’s so much happening that it’s nigh on impossible to take in and appreciate on a couple of listens. It’s an album that you need to invest time in to full appreciate and pick up on all its facets. It’s an album that will morph and sound different on each listen, you’ll pick up on different nuances and fall in love with it in a different way.

Why this is termed a “mini album” we don’t know, there absolutely nothing mini about it. Best guess would be that all nine tracks are sub five minutes and refined down – expect 10 minute epics on their full length then. That aside, get yourself acquainted with Mercury Fountain, it’s a joy. From the intricate guitars on ‘Calypso 2’ to the big riffs on ‘Surrogate Head’ to the minimalistic electro of ‘A Thousand Small Places’ to the math rock chaos of ‘Obidant’ there’s so much happening that you can’t help but find something to love. For the lighter hearted, take ‘The Astral Wave’ as your starting point, minimal progressive post rock builds with atmospherics towards it’s crescendo with some stunning guitar solos. Just when you think it can’t get any bigger the jazz saxophone bursts into play. Glorious.

An album that will shock and excite, brace yourself – you’re in for a treat.

AD Rating 8/10.

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