Mercury Falls: Quadrangle (2010)
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
It begins with a stark electric drone, an eerie, throbbing repetition from which the familiar cry of a saxophone emerges. The tune is "Spring Pools," and it sounds like music that swells out of the quiet after the Apocalypse. The group is Mercury Falls, a saxophone/guitar/bass/drums ensemble with some deft electronic embellishments. The music could be called ambient, with its seemingly drifting momentum, but it's too gutsy to hold that tag.
Heading up the group are reedman Patrick Cress and guitarist Ryan Francesconi, who wrote or co-wrote each of the seven tunes on Quadrangle. Their influences are wide-rangingBalkan folk music, American jazz and Indie rock. The music they make is quite originalan odd amalgam of Bill Frisell folksiness, ECM spaciousness, subdued garage rock grit and floating, Daniel Lanois ambiance, serrated with a hard edge.
A suite-like, unhurried evenness of the seven compositions pervades. "Speak Without Ears" has a frictionless monorail momentum built on Cress' metallic guitar twangs and a droning, clattering bass/drum rhythm. "Quad Idea" opens with a mournful foghorn sound, a reed-produced warning that blows into some saxophone double-tracking- -the alto's plaintive cry over the deep grumble of the baritone, accompanied by the glow of neon guitar and a subtle electronic luminescence.
"Years Without Speech" has a holy resonance, like music played inside the thick walls of an ancient house of worship. "Solar Plexis" sounds unearthly; music beamed in from the vastness of outer space, a good description of Quadrangle, a starkly original work of sonic art.
Track Listing: Spring Pools; Speak Without Ears; Quad Idea; Years Without Speech;
Insurance Rep; Solar Plexis; Lullaby for Beane.
Personnel: Ryan Francesconi: guitar, electronics; Patrick Cress: alto and baritone
saxophones, bass clarinet, flute; Tim Bulkley: drums; Eric Perney: upright bass; Michelle Amador: voice (1); Barry Syska: voice (4)
Record Label: Porto Franco Records