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I Hear Sparks: Mercury Falls – Quadrangle

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Producing an otherworldly state with surprisingly organic instrumentations, Mercury Falls is a jazz ensemble well worth exploring. Their commitment to developing the “language” of a group is evident in every tapestry produced and those who insist that there’s nothing worthwhile in modern jazz would do well to pay attention to the magic made by these individuals.

Quadrangle is a record of intoxicating sound and gorgeous textures. With its eloquent, elegant blend of indie rock, electronica, West Coast cool jazz, and New Age vibes, this is an album of substance and style that feels like cool waves gliding over your toes.

Comprised of Patrick Cress (saxophone, bass clarinet, flute), Ryan Francesconi (guitar, electronics), Tim Bulkley (drums), and Eric Perney (bass), Mercury Falls is a quartet of cosmic familiarity and charisma. The players bring years of experience playing with artists as diverse as the wonderful Joanna Newsom to Tom Waits and John Clayton. The vastness of the musicians’ adventures is present with every note.

The 40 minutes of music of Quadrangle sails like transient clouds, with each piece taking different forms on different listens. Is that electronic noise and electric guitar on “Insurance Rep?” Is that the sound of a train on “Solar Plexus?”

The simple refusal of this quartet to play by the rules enables the magic found on Quadrangle to soar and simmer where necessary. The group, born out of a multi-media collaboration called Octagon, takes shape with music that calls on spirituality, art and the stuff of dreams.

“Spring Pools” opens the record with the sound of emptiness. This is no accident, as the piece was written for the heart chakra. Drawing on the “love centre,” the number takes the gentle form of emotional empowerment as Cress draws his saxophone into range.

“Insurance Rep” is about a form of emotional empowerment of a different sort, I suppose. Written after Cress struggled with insurance companies over the results of an auto accident, the song’s deep, cathartic nature resists the temptation to transform into an “angry piece” and instead simmers with linear electric guitar and flute.

For Mercury Falls, music and energy are one and the same. The use of composition to answer questions and to create solutions is vital. The players chime in, voicing their authenticity and compassion and love.

Quadrangle is, I think, the only record it could have been as a result. The organic and the essential collide, and the resultant dark and composite ambience remains an alluring, fascinating experience.

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