When you were a child, did you ever walk into an ice cream store and wished you could try all the flavors? To just dig in and eat ’til your stomach hurts, but thinking to yourself that it was worth it? Well, you may relive this feeling with today’s record! The Physics House Band, a math rock band from Brighton, has released their album, Mercury Fountain, on the 21st of April and it is the musical equivalent to being in an ice cream shop with an all-you-can-eat offer.
The album is filled with math rock goodness, topped with beautiful fuzzy distortion only surpassed by the gorgeous conceptual ambiance the ears of the listeners are caressed by. These go from very minimalistic ideas, over soundtrack-esque background music to psychedelic eeriness.
Let’s look at the songs “Holy Caves” and “A Thousand Small Spaces”. “Holy Caves” begins with a long, moaning synth line that almost feels like something straight out of a horror movie; it can really make one uneasy. Of course this changes rather quickly, with a forthcoming bass line that really hit my nostalgic sweet spot for 70’s psychedelic rock. The guitars play around in the background with varying effects like a phaser, delay, reverb or flanger. As the song slowly comes to an end, the guitars step in the foreground with continuously more distortion thrown onto them. This makes for a perfect build-up for the upcoming track, “Surrogate Head”. “A Thousand Small Spaces” on the other hand is a more open, empathetic-sounding song. A clean, heavily delayed fingerpicking riff envelops the listener in a warm, cozy feeling. The synth melody, which is the song’s closure, feels almost like a little homage to Pink Floyd and has the same embracive feeling. The drums are so dynamic they blend into the track like a heartbeat, with cymbal work so smooth that it actually reminded me of ice cream, thus the metaphor.
Moving on to the harder tracks on the LP, we actually have so many wonderful songs at hand. Each of the tracks has its own charismatic feeling. In the end I decided that “Calypso” is the song to represent this heavier-feeling portion of the record, in part because it is the first full-length track on Mercury Fountain. Starting off with a rapid, staccato synth lead and a thick bassline directly after, this number will take math- and prog rock fans from the start. The song’s synth lead evolves, taking in notes and developing a constant stream of flavors. A glockenspiel is added to the mix for an additional sweet overture before the funky, off-beat groove of the bass guitar kicks in and makes the song. Speaking of which, the guitar sometimes breaks into the song with short, effect-heavy solos that almost have something catchy to them.
To reiterate, Mercury Fountain is a stunning, interesting and bold experimental math rock album. It has everything fans of the scene could want in one album. The sheer authentic and confident performance by the band is something one usually doesn’t see with such young bands. There is nothing I can really say except: Buy it. If you hesitate, believe me, it’s absolutely worth every cent. The Physics House Band has definitely created my favorite instrumental album this year.
Score: 9.5 / 10
Notable Tracks: “Calypso”; “Surrogate Head”
FFO: Three Trapped Tigers, Gallops