Release DetailsLABEL Level Plane
RELEASED ON 4/24/2007
Rosetta / Balboa
Project Mercury (Split CD)
posted on 7/2007 By:
Split releases are usually bittersweet. It always seems like either one of the bands isn’t worth a shit, or the overall release is too short, or even too long. And honestly, I’d typically rather see bands spend their time crafting new full-lengths instead of material for splits. But when the results are this positive, it reaffirms just how rewarding the occasional split can be. While last year’s Neur-Isis tag team Mouth of the Architect/Kenoma fit together perfectly, Project Mercury features a more curious partnership between Neur-Isis-inspired Rosetta and the political, post-hardcore outfit Balboa. Somehow, the marriage flourishes.
Again, while both are firmly rooted in Philadelphia, these two groups approach music quite differently, so the union is understandably odd. However, there are moments when Rosetta and Balboa seem more in tune with each other than one might think, and those can be found on the latter’s “Kaddish” and the title track collaboration. First, though, the Rocky-conjuring quartet pulls out “Primitive Accumulation,” which is fairly laidback until the halfway point when the tempo increases dramatically and scratchy vocals sound on and off. “Kaddish,” again, has more in common with the Neur-Isis niche than anything else Balboa has composed in recent memory, and features not only a 10-minute length, when “Primitive” Accumulation” and “Planet of Slums” are only about three apiece, but has a boatload of instrumental drifting to boot.
Rosetta’s contributions are predictable, but no less enjoyable. “TMA-1” is a 10-minute, instrumental track in the vein of subdued Isis, until the buildup gains clout at 5:27, though remains on its previously charted course. The 12-minute “Clavius” also begins in a gentle manner. Unlike “TMA-1,” however, there are lyrics, and those are intermittently relayed via distorted, background vocals. “Clavius” is heavier, too, and utilizes the crescendo as so many bands of this style frequently do – particularly at the nine-minute mark, which abuts brief downtime. The title track is an intriguing blend, yet is instrumental for its entire nine-minute duration.
On the one hand, it wouldn’t necessarily be bad advice to recommend obtaining a copy of Rosetta’s The Galilean Satellites – their magnificent, double-disc debut – and calling it a day. On the other hand, dismissing Project Mercury would be ignoring a few very good songs by two talented units. Ultimately, if you fancy both, PM should be in your collection.
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