Monday, March 15, 2010

The Mercury Program New Album and Tour

Longtime readers may remember the piece of practical poetry I wrote about a particular Mercury Program song one year ago this month. Particularly astute longtime readers may also remember the comment I appended to my post, in which I proclaimed how psyched I was that the Program would be releasing a new album in the summer of '09.

Well, I checked for the new album periodically as 2009 melted away into candle drippings and memories of financial angst, but never was greeted by a web page with a release date. I'd stopped looking, to be honest, figuring that some spat had ended the band's reformation.

So imagine my surprise last night, when Melanie, in the midst of a nostalgia trip for her one-time home of Tampa, discovers that none other than The Mercury Program had played last Friday at a bar she used to frequent.

It turns out Mercury Program had actually dropped their album in late December or early January, and that, further, they're playing tonight a mere 45 minutes up Interstate 95 from the world famous La Historia Corporate Headquarters.

Well, hot damn, gas up the Toyota, Holmes.

I haven't been to a show since I saw Hank III last summer, and I've been kind of jonesing for the concert experience. And Melanie's a fan, too. So it's the both of us who're driving up in about an hour.

I've ordered Chez Viking and it's on the way, though I haven't heard it yet. When I do receive it, I won't be posting anything, at least not immediately, because I don't think it's right to post an mp3 from a new release that the band hasn't uploaded themselves.

But while I'm enjoying the band's music tonight, or basking in its afterglow for the rest of this week, I urge you to check out the song I'd earlier blogged, "Nazca Lines of Peru." It's still up, six week notice or no, and if you like that, if you're struck by the band's work on the song, by both the parts that draw on their impeccable sources, and by the parts that rely on the band's own unique vision, well, you could do worse than heading over to the band's website and laying over 12 cyber-smackers for their new one.

I can say that without even hearing it. Mercury Program have already proved themselves to be one of the most adventurous bands of the last decade. Plunking down twelve of your hard earned for their product is no gamble, and in fact, I recommend wholeheartedly that you do so.

And if you're reading this on Monday the 15th, and live near Lake Worth, FL, well,a trip to Propaganda on J Street might not be a bad idea, either.

The Mercury Program - From the Vapor of Gasoline - 04 - Nazca Lines Of Peru.mp3

192 kbps mp3, still up (Right click and save as target)


tad said...

R: So ... how was it? Will U B doing a review here? -- TAD.

rastronomicals said...

T: It was great; I even shook Sander Travisano's hand after the show.

No, I hadn't planned on doing a review, but I will say here, since it's sort of come up, that it struck me while seeing them that Mercury Program as a band have moved away from being primarily about dynamics.

They've almost always been guitar, vibraphone, electric piano, drums and bass, and they still are. And the guitarist, Tom Reno, has always played these circular, repetitive, trancelike patterns. And he still does.

But what Reno used to do, that he doesn't do any more, is come out with these irregularly periodic blasts of guitar noise, so that the quiet song they started with is nearly shattered. Then the blast recedes and the song recoalesces in its quiet trancelike mode.

quietassonnantLOUDDISSONANTquietassonant if you will, the most noticeable thing about the song is how its sections contrast.

This is almost exactly how "Nazca Lines of Peru" proceeds, and almost exactly how they *didn't* write their songs on their last, A Day to Learn The Language, and the new one, too, if I can go by the music played from Chez Viking at the show.

To compensate, they've really upped the ante on the repetitive, recursive guitar figure thing. It's basically all Reno does.

So they end up sounding something that sounds like '70's jazz fusion lite meets ambient/trance. The level of musicianship remains high, but the decibel meter reads low. The dissonance meter, too, if there is such a thing.

These are not bad things. Their music is still beautiful, and easy to listen to for an old fart like myself, but I definitely believe they've had a perspective change.

Funny, thinking about the too old/too loud thing: Their opening band, something like Fin Fang Foom or the other, were a loud noise band. And I don't really have a problem with either loud or noise EXCEPT their bass drum and bass guitar were so loud that the boom with each thumped bassdrum head, or each plucked string traveled straight through my chest, almost literally fucking with my heartbeat and my breathing.

I don't actually think this is an old age thing for me. I've ALWAYS hated the BOOM BOOM BOOM bass thing, like whenever I might have gotten dragged to a dance club when I was younger, hated it then too.

Fin Fang Foom (or whatever) did turn down the bass after a few songs, but when Mercury program came on they were all about reasonable volume, which was something of a relief, while also making me laugh at myself as the geezer I am . . . these whippersnappers with their loud music are


tad said...

R: I see. So U DID sorta do a review. I might havta check in2 these guys -- they sound intresting, like everything U write about, & I've always bn a sucker 4 music w/ real big contrasts....
Cheers from 1 old geezer 2 another.... -- TAD.