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Physics House Band - Mercury Fountain album review

Brighton math proggers’ tightly packed debut, guided by Syd Arthur’s Joel and Raven

Physics House Band - Mercury Fountain album artwork

The fact that the Physics House Band are said to play more instruments than there are minutes of music on this mini-LP might indicate that we’re not about to hear linear, four-four rock’n’roll.

But within their dizzying kaleidoscopes of chopped up rhythms, melodic shards and intertwined strands of instrumental indulgence, there’s a satisfying amount to get your teeth into. Initially, it’s dense, tense stuff, as the mathy industrial bleeps that open the album give way to distant, disjointed rock guitar figures, then the scattergun stutter-rhythm of Calypso 2 takes over, dancing around a bamboozled keyboard motif like a ducking, diving boxer. But then we’re allowed to catch our breath quite beautifully with the mantric, meditative organ and undulating bass of Holy Caves. The tranquil aquatic keyboard soundscape of A Thousand Small Spaces later performs a similar function, but on further listens more enduring melodic tapeworms begin to writhe free, such as the brash brass motif of The Astral Wave and the wistful keyboard figures that bookend the set on Mobius Strip and Mobius Strip II. The result is that an album lasting just 29 minutes feels like it’s kept you riveted for three. A masterclass in condensed creativity.

Johnny is a regular contributor to Prog and Classic Rock magazines, both online and in print. Johnny is a highly experienced and versatile music writer whose tastes range from prog and hard rock to R’n’B, funk, folk and blues. He has written about music professionally for 30 years, surviving the Britpop wars at the NME in the 90s (under the hard-to-shake teenage nickname Johnny Cigarettes) before branching out to newspapers such as The Guardian and The Independent and magazines such as Uncut, Record Collector and, of course, Prog and Classic Rock