“I don’t really view our music as any genre. Some people say math rock, some people say psychedelic, but we’ve never sat down and said, ‘We’re going to write this kind of music.’ We just get in, make batshit sounds, and Dave plays really aggressive drums over it.”
The Physics House Band guitarist and synth man Sam Organ is perhaps being a tad modest about his group’s brainy songwriting prowess as he speaks down the blower from their hometown of Brighton.
The instrumentalists’ latest effort, the mini-album Mercury Fountain, may very well be a trippy, mad adventure through a myriad of sonic realms, but it’s measured, cleverly moulding and meshing styles together with a panache beyond their years.
It doesn’t stop there, though. The record, which features nine songs, is in effect a soundtrack to a kaleidoscopic story dripping with metaphysical meanderings. Despite there being no flowery lyrics to tell the tale, this is most definitely prog-certified stuff.
“The story of the record is about diving into a mercury fountain and having these crazy visual experiences,” says bassist and fellow synther Adam Hutchison, who extracted inspiration from director and writer Alejandro Jodorowsky. “It’s kind of travelling through the mind, but also through outer space and other astral planes. It’s not really inferred where it all takes place, but it’s kind of having different bizarre experiences, meeting different unnamed characters and being in different realms, and emerging from that halfway through and being sucked back into reality.”
The end result is a triumphant trek through post-rock ups and downs, ambient interludes and wild jazz blowouts. The dreamy opener Mobius Strip is glazed with Syd Arthur-esque keys – little wonder, as the band’s Raven Bush and Joel Magill produced the record – while Obidant on the other hand is a kick-in-the-chops whirlwind of distortion and jagged time signatures. The record swansongs with Mobius Strip II, which regurgitates a refrain from the opening tune to create a seamless body of work.
“We did it over three or four weekends between May and July at the Wicker Studios [in Kent],” Hutchison says. “Raven and Joel were awesome and got exactly what we wanted to do straight away. They were really good at sitting back and letting us indulge ourselves as much as we wanted to, but they were also really good at making suggestions for certain bits, effects and techniques. They had a wealth of amazing synthesisers and outboard gear.”
“They were like, ‘That sounds good, but why don’t you do it more mental?’” Organ says. “We’ve got Raven playing violin on the record too, which was awesome. It was a really nice studio, which belonged to Kate Bush, as Raven is Kate’s nephew.”
Since forming in 2010 in somewhat unusual circumstances, the trio – completed by drummer Dave Morgan – have had a slow and steady rise to prominence in the UK and beyond, landing support slots with the likes of Jaga Jazzist and left-leaning indie tykes Alt-J along the way. “We were in a five-piece group who met at university,” Organ says. “We were doing a gig, but our singer pulled out at the last minute while we were up in Manchester. We suggested, ‘Fuck it, let’s just do it anyway and improvise,’ and our guitarist wasn’t happy about that, so we just did it as a three-piece and thought it was way better.”
In 2013, The Physics House Band – named after Organ’s “weird classical music” old solo project – unveiled their first release, the six-track salvo Horizons / Rapture.
Four years later and it seems some impatient fans’ thumbs have been left raw from some overactive twiddling.
“It’s obviously a very slow work rate,” admits Organ. “There’s quite a lot of pissed off fans already because we haven’t had anything else out. We’re working on a follow-up though, so hopefully that will be out early next year.”
“I think the next record is going to have a lot more experimentation on it,” Hutchison excitedly adds. “Because of certain restrictions, we didn’t have much time to experiment to the extent that we wanted to on this record, so there’s going to be a lot more of it going forward.”
It seems this innate desire to push boundaries has propelled the threesome forward over the last seven years, giving them the impetus to jam out new, wacky ideas. If the music isn’t progressing, then there’s little point.
“The most important thing is to make music that you haven’t heard before,” Hutchison says, “and you’ll never be able to create the sound you’ve never heard before if you don’t experiment. You could be experimenting while knowingly going for a sound, tinkering while knowing where you want to go, or you could literally plug things in at random, having no idea what’s going to happen. That’s what we really enjoy doing.”
With another record already twinkling in The Physics House Band’s six eyes, it appears that the floodgates may very well be about to open. However, while they may be making big strides with their music, the marauding trio are still happily clocking in and out of their day jobs.
Organ helps to run a recording studio and rehearsal space, Hutchison is a filmmaker and Morgan works in a record shop.
Despite their upwards trajectory, this doesn’t look like it’s going to stop anytime soon – but, in an odd contradiction of sorts, it looks like it will ultimately keep the music as potent as possible.
“I like working, and seeing touring as a holiday and a luxury seems better, I think,” Organ says. “It will keep the passion for music stronger for longer. Running a recording studio, that’s kind of more rewarding, having all these young bands come in and watching them do the same thing. I think it’s nice to have something different and when we come together to write music, it’s just fresh, rather than being told, ‘Here’s your schedule for the year.’
“You see people became jaded and quit, or leave projects. I don’t want that to ever happen to us.”
Prog most certainly agrees.