Review: The Mercury Tree – Permutations

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Almost two years after its third album “Countenance,” Portland’s experimentalists The Mercury Tree are back to the business with a brand new full-length album called “Permutations.” This new record proves one thing—this act definitely represents one of the most innovative bands on the current scene, and having said that I certainly hope that some big label will notice the band’s creative potential and sign them what will bring them opportunities for touring and breaking out of the United States. And that is something that I, as a fan of the band, would love to see happen.

“Permutations” is absolutely a crushing record, but in the same time it’s constructive and creative release full of energy and power. On this album, guys own the sound by making it obedient, what’s shown through the unification of all diverse parts.

The opening track “Symptoms” gains the attention it seeks from stabs of post-progressive rock contrasted with avant-garde and psychedelic ambiance. It doesn’t take much for the band to show the beauty of improvisation, as the lengthy song format possibly gives an insight into the band’s songwriting process, what they masterfully do on the title track. Playing this live leaves even more space for additional improvising, what I am sure would be an unforgettable experience. It’s only song number three, and the deal is sealed.

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But there is much more than that. “Ether/Ore” soothes far more often than it shreds. The Mercury Tree do not blow their load early in an effort to maintain the listener’s interest, but rather choose to foreplay. The band teases the listener by pursuing unexpected sonic paths while never failing in their ability to deliver a killer hook when atmosphere and melody will no longer suffice. “Placeholder” is probably the most emotional moment brought by Spees’ perfect voice and a short piano passage. Similarly to the previous tune, TMT have a knowledge of when less is more.

The spacious sound patterns are extended most of time with the presence of saxophone, performed by Tony Mowe, which gives the album a brand new side.

“Permutations” is a powerful offering from the Portlanders. The group has taken a distinctive combination of ingredients and squeezed out every bit of potential out of them. Whatever The Mercury Tree do next, in any case, I’m there.

Permutations by The Mercury Tree is available now from Bandcamp.

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