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The Mercury Tree: Countenance

More dizzyingly ambitious prog from Portland, Oregon.

Looking at that name, you might be forgiven for thinking this band will be yet another act trying to studiously emulate Porcupine Tree.

Thankfully they’re not – this Portland, Oregon band possess their own distinctive musical mind and uncompromising sound. Taking a scattergun approach to songwriting can often lead to an awkward, puzzling mess, but The Mercury Tree have somehow managed to make a coherent sound from influences as wide-ranging as jazz fusion, progressive metal, 70s rock and even goth. It’s clear that they’ve also listened to King Crimson and The Mars Volta, yet those influences never overwhelm these guys. Otoliths is a complex trek through the genres, perfectly implemented by a band to be admired for their captivating technique and sonic mettle. The instrumental Mazz Jathy is, as the name suggests, a clattering bonding of math rock and jazz. Like the similarly ambitious Jazz Hands Of Doom, it’s both bewildering and persuasive. There are moments when you’ll find yourself respecting their technical aplomb rather than just enjoying the music, but for patient listeners keen for a challenge, this Tree is sure to be a real grower.