Album Review: The Physics House Band – Mercury Fountain

Review from Ben Forrester

In 2013, a young Brighton based three piece called The Physics House Band exploded onto the math-rock scene with their debut release ‘Horizons/Rapture‘. The record was an adventurous mix of psych, prog, jazz and math and it basically blew everyone’s heads off! From thereon in, they toured hard and became one of the UK’s most promising new instrumental outfits.

Once the buzz had died down after a year or so, the band would appear on the odd festival bill and play new material but no new releases were confirmed. It wasn’t until late last year when the band went on tour with Math mavericks Three Trapped Tigers that they announced to the delight of many that a new record had been completed and was due out early 2017. So, after a long four year wait, The Physics House Band have stayed true to their word and are ready to unleash their second release ‘Mercury Fountain‘.

Generally speaking, Mercury Fountain pretty much acts as one continuous 30 minute piece of music, which the band have cut into 9 digestible pieces. Judging by that sentence you would think that this is going to be another cosmic yet frantic sonic journey? You’d be 100% right.

Bending, relenting soundscapes open up the record as ‘Mobius Strip’ morphs into fuzzy, chunky riffs complete with sci-fi synths before elevating into a volcanic onslaught of crashing drums and soaring, phase-heavy guitar lines. From the very off, PHB let you know that this is going to go further and deeper than they’ve gone before.

Calypso‘ keeps that energy up with what I think could possibly be one of their finest moments to date. It has this proper urgency in its up front arpeggiated synth line and super driving, super tight rhythm section, but then it has these lovely melodic layers of vibraphone that are sprinkled over top in this bewildering yet beautiful fashion. It holds such a captivating grip on you that you just can’t wait to see what’s around the corner.

After that the track listing sort of goes on an interlude followed by song kind of idea. Tracks like ‘Holy Caves‘ and ‘A Thousand Small Spaces‘ create atmospheric soundscapes to make way for their adjacent tunes. The former brings a hypnotic bass line into focus before the pumped up riffed out assault of ‘Surrogate Head‘. The latter being a radiant, electronically driven soundscape that soothes your head before ‘Obidant‘ goes in for another sucker punch, with a super frantic math-rock work out.

For it’s final three tracks, Mercury Fountain pushes you even further into the stratosphere with psyched out flutes, bulky fuzzy guitars and mind bending sax solos. It’s super cosmic and super prog, but it’s the way in which the band blend and serve this massive melting pot of influences that keeps it tasty and fresh without it being over indulgent.

For those that have been anticipating this release, I would say that it’s worth the wait. I must admit, I’d lost interest in this band for a moment, but this record has pulled me right back in. Mercury Fountain expands ideas and tightens the screws of its predecessor to create a piece that pushes you out of a five story building in order for you to land on a giant fluff covered trampoline.

Mercury Fountain is out April 21st on Small Pond – Pre-order here!

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