The Mercury Program

The Mercury Program

From the Vapor of Gasoline

Tiger Style

It’s both enchanting and engaging. When you enter, it seems as if you’ve entered an event in progress, and when you leave, it seems like it’s a premature exit on your part. As soon as you’re on the other end of the door, the Mercury Program is going to set into another tune. Difference and repetition seem to come up everywhere, but they figure in even more so here. Listening to a song is like slipping into a slow spin cycle that whirls into infinity. These songs could go on forever, looping and doubling back upon themselves.

The debut Mercury Program record was filled with wide open cornfield spaces, miles and miles of even terrain, shaken up periodically, but never unpleasantly so. Here it seems as if they’ve filled in those open spaces with soft vibraphone clouds, dazed Rhodes plod, and spiraling guitar chords. The drumming remains even-tempered while accenting silences with a force that could propel airplanes.

From the Vapor of Gasoline is in parts positively lush. The bowed vibraphone glow slowly illuminates the rest of the band, introducing them on the title track. The pulse of the Rhodes sets the tone for “Down on Your Old Lung” the most quietly seductive song on the album. The pace gives the impression of dancing with a ghost, laboring over each step before she disappears in a flurry of distorted guitars. Like Karate, the Mercury Program can kick in the distortion and make it count, which is less common than one would think.

They haven’t lost that homespun rock urge, no matter how lofty some of the songs get. “Highways Like Veins” invokes driving past long fields of wheat, the subtle tensions of the road and distant mirages. “Nazca Lines of Peru” revolves around a consistent riffing traded between the guitar and vibes.

From the Vapor of Gasoline is one of the more comfortable rides you’ll take in the near future. With its quiet charm and narrative splendor, the Mercury Program prove themselves to be a limber and powerful ensemble, capable of carefully constructing songs, but as adept at hiding the scaffolding.

Tiger Style, 149 Wooster St., 4th Floor, New York, NY 10012; http://www.tigerstylerecords.com

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Recently on Ink 19...

  • Southern Accents 55
    Southern Accents 55

    A woofin’ good time with cuts from Hank Williams, Muddy Waters, Delta Moon and more from KMRD 96.9, Madrid, New Mexico!

  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
    Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

    Absurdism with a healthy dose of air conditioning.

  • Mixtape 172 :: My Old Bassist
    Mixtape 172 :: My Old Bassist

    Like pre-teens throwing every liquid into the kitchen blender and daring each other to drink the results, Woody and Jeremy fuse all manner of sounds legitimate and profane into some murky concoction that tastes surprisingly good.

  • Demons/Demons 2
    Demons/Demons 2

    Synapse Films reissues Lamberto Bava’s epic ’80s gore-filled movies Demons and Demons 2 in beautiful new editions.

  • Sylvie Courvoisier and Mary Halvorson
    Sylvie Courvoisier and Mary Halvorson

    Searching for the Disappearing Hour (Pyroclastic Records). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

  • Payal Kapadia
    Payal Kapadia

    Earlier this year, director Payal Kapadia was awarded the Oeil d’or (Golden Eye) for best documentary at the 74th Cannes Film Festival for her debut feature, A Night of Knowing Nothing. Lily and Generoso interviewed Kapadia about her poignant film, which employs a hybrid-fiction technique to provide a personal view of the student protests that engulfed Indian colleges and universities during the previous decade.

  • Roger’s and Hammerstein’s Cinderella
    Roger’s and Hammerstein’s Cinderella

    A classic children’s tale re-imagined by America’s greatest composers.

  • Taraka
    Taraka

    Welcome to Paradise Lost (Rage Peace). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

  • AFI Fest 2021
    AFI Fest 2021

    The 2021 edition of the American Film Institute’s Festival, was a total success. After mounting a small virtual festival in 2020, AFI Fest came roaring back this year with a slate of 115 films representing over fifty countries. Lily and Generoso rank their favorite features from this year’s festival which include new offerings from Céline Sciamma, Miguel Gomes, and Jacques Audiard.

  • Comet Of Any Substance
    Comet Of Any Substance

    Full Of Seeds, Bursting With Its Own Corrections (COAS). Review by Carl F. Gauze.

From the Archives