The Mercury Program – Chez Viking

Shimmering. Always shimmering. Impossibly shimmering. I mused to myself, ‘I have figured it out! They sprinkled the electric piano with fairy dust and the vibraphone mallets are fairy wands with sparks spewing from the cloth heads!’ Alright… Maybe no fairy dust, just very proficient musicians with a vision, releasing an album after seven years of silence. This post-rock equivalent to a bottle of glitter is vaguely reminiscent of Tortoise. Non-climactic, propulsive rhythm-driven songs. Moods varying from melancholy to optimistic to tranquil.

The jazzy percussion work on this album incorporates complex in-the-pocket rhythms that are performed so tastefully that they meld with the simplicity of the bass lines. An ease about the crescendos and cymbal hits remind you of waves on an ocean (a la the album art). Laying above this fluid base, fast-picked guitar lounging in measure-long echoing effect. The timbre’s of both the vibraphone and electric piano are ingeniously complementary, providing the melodic statements. A legato-feel electric piano in simple phrases. The vibraphone adding a wholly different flavor to this forward moving album. Tasteful and never understated.

The amazing quality, though, about this album is that none of the aforementioned instruments are playing the same rhythms. Neither are they playing off of each other. Each constituent is flying in their own little instrument heaven, diggin’ on their own purposeful path, giving this a brightly layered yet surprisingly cohesive design.

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