2. Ivy Tree Shore
5. Beneath The Serene
7. Into Lost and Away
Limited Edition of 300
What is the serene? What lies behind the beauty and softness? Is it a real truth? Can it be so pleasing that it’s frightening, addicting, toxic, almost deadly?
Fragile, driving and soaring in turns, the seven beautifully intimate ethereal, darkwave, shoegaze tracks on Beneath the Serene venture through the illusion of serenity to a raging ocean of uncertainty that can be overwhelming, yet can also expand the spirit and sense of self.
Bringing over 25 years of experience to their second full-length release, the heavenly voice of Dru Allen (This Ascension, Mirabilis) and treated multi-layered guitars and electro-ambient atmospheres of Erick R. Scheid (Translucia) are joined by the bass talents of Cindy Coulter (This Ascension, Faith and the Muse.)
After two Projekt releases as a duo (A Waking Ghost Inside and The Guides EP,) Allen and Scheid yearned to stir up the band’s instrumentation. When Coulter joined the band on bass at a 2014 Portland show, it left a spiritual and musical impression on the two, inspiring them to ask Coulter to join for an entire tour the following year. The bass guitar brings an earthy, grounding element to the band as well as a lusher, fuller sound reminiscent of early Cocteau Twins, The Cure and Lycia’s Burning Circle album.
From the haunting opener “Le Spectre Concubine” to the joyous abandon of “Into Lost and Away,” Beneath the Serene takes flight into the ether while traversing paths inward, painting aural landscapes that meld voice, organic instrumentation and electronics. Dru’s seductive dream-felt vocals and introspective lyrics echo deep in the tracks. Scheid’s instrumental compositions take the band to new realms such as on the translucent “Migration” which draws influence from ambient luminaries such as Robert Rich (who mastered the album.)
Over the second half of 2015, each member recorded their parts separately in San Francisco, Portland OR and Geneva. Working from different parts of the globe posed a natural challenge to staying connected throughout the writing of the album.
“The songs became a catalyst for self-introspection,” says Allen. “I’d be unsure about something musically, and that feeling would just keep expanding. My whole spirit was questioning and getting questioned. At times it got a bit overwhelming. All three of us experienced our very own deeply personal process of self-examination which played a huge role in the writing and recording of these songs.”
Themes such as questioning love and existence, yearning for connection while feeling isolated, and searching for truth, colored the songs with emotion and vulnerability. These motifs find a convergence in the title track “Beneath the Serene;” it speaks to transcending oneself by accepting that life’s questions often have hard (or no) answers:
“Our hearts, our fears wrest away/taking breath, and scan the skies…”
Featuring contributions from guest vocalists Ingrid Blue (Trance to the Sun) and Summer Bowman (Mirabilis, the Machine in the Garden), and guest guitarist Neil McKay (Autumn), Beneath the Serene offers a variety of swelling moods from the dark and hypnotic to the sublimely tranquil and romantic.
Mercury’s Antennae imbue ethereal wave, shoegaze, and ambient electronic music with an illusive allure of something greatly desired that – while pleasurable when experienced – leaves us forever transformed.
Reviews Editor –
From The Celebrity Cafe
On March 14, Mercury’s Antennae released their second full-length album, Beneath The Serene. They began as a duo, comprised of Dru Allen on vocals and Erick R. Scheid on guitar, keys, synth and production. More recently, bassist Cindy Coulter joined the group. The result is a skilled composition of almost chamber-like vocals, nuanced bass lines and dynamic electro-ambient work on this record.
Beneath The Serene opens with “Le Spectre Concubine.” Whispering and shimmering ambient tones move like wind through the track – bringing Allen’s voice with them. Listeners are immediately dropped into an unearthly and immersive landscape in this short opening piece. In the second track, “Ivy Tree Shore,” a clear and accessible rhythm leads the way. When the vocals enter, they ring of a siren song. With a distant and crystalline sense, the singing feels like it is coming from a cliff above. Instrumentals that recall old folk tones punctuate the otherwise modern and weighted composition. The arch of “Ivy Tree Shore” evokes waves on the tide.
Next, “Chrysalis” begins with ominous ambient tones before a theatrical voice enters and the beat drops. This is a dynamic track, which makes strong use of counterpoint between airy vocals and driving musicality. Immediately following, “Silivren” contains dreamlike and whimsical notes that glide seamlessly throughout. Soaring tones layered in evoke fae-like images. Pulsing rhythms mark the title track on this record. An especially cohesive song, musical and human voices weave together as one force here. Ethereal and enthralling, this arrangement envelops listeners.
“Migration” then notches the tempo down and the haunting vibe up. Cinematographic in nature, listeners cannot rip their ears away as they slowly drift to their seats’ edge. Aptly named, “Migration” conveys the sense of a tense journey through unknown places. Beneath The Serene closes on a strong note with “Into Lost and Away.” This track would easily attract a crowd to the dance floor in any goth setting. With sensuality in rhythm and silkiness in vocals, “Into Lost and Away” is attention grabbing and immersive.
Mercury’s Antennae produced a strong record with Beneath The Serene. Audiences are sure to see more from this trio in the near future. Rating: 4 out of 5. -Erin Huestis
Reviews Editor –
Beneath the Serene is Mercury’s Antennae’s first release as a trio and helps the band more thoroughly explore the dark forests of The Cure and the Cocteau Twins without leaving their own uniquely ethereal sound behind. In addition to the band, the album also features contributions from Ingrid Blue (Trance to the Sun), Summer Bowman (Mirabillis, the Machine in the Garden), and Neil McKay (Autumn). It’s been awhile since I have delved into the world of Projekt Records but one listen to Beneath the Serene reminds me how much I have missed this genre.
The album opens with the neo-classical “Le Spectre Concubine,” which sets the mood for what is to come. It slowly, and literally, blows in the keyboards and samples before the drum machine echoes into “Ivy Tree Shore.” This song may, in fact, be my favorite track of 2016 so far. The haunting, gentle female vocals that float atop the droning drum machine and fluid bass are a truly gorgeous combination. It reminds me a bit of the more ethereal sounding aspects of The Gathering. The more expansive “Into Lost and Away” has that same fluid aspect to it but it’s plodding rhythm and faster tempo make it undeniably enjoyable. In my opinion, “Silivren” is another highlight as well. It features beautiful acoustic guitars enhanced by soft keyboard and sample work. It’s absolutely mesmerizing in its simplicity.
Beneath the Serene is a very somber album and the songs are so well-crafted that you’d be crazy not to give it a chance. It’s one of those albums that, as the title suggests, prompts you to reflect on life’s unanswerable questions. It’s far from background music and perhaps best suited to the midnight hour through a set of quality headphones. It’s an album that is both tranquil and inspiring and an excellent addition to the Projekt Records catalog. -Mark 1340
Reviews Editor –
For its second full-length, misty dreamsquad Mercury’s Antennae pulls itself out of the ether just long enough to establish a foothold on good ol’ earth. This is at least in part due to the presence of new bassist Cindy Coulter, whose twanging bottom grounds the music in a way it wasn’t before.
But it’s as much about emotion as anything – singer Dru Allen deals with the way she feels about life on this planet, not out among the stars. Instrumentalist Erick R. Scheid gives her a spacy backdrop, no doubt – his combination of guitars and electronics swirls like the dust between comets, but it settles on terra firma. That gives “Ivy Tree Shore,” “Into Lost and Away” and the title track enough backbone to keep from dissolving in the rain, even when things get downright cosmic in the epic ambient instrumental “Migration.” Mercury’s Antennae gives us music for blissing out, not drifting away. -Michael Toland
Reviews Editor –
From Gothic Paradise
After the captivating first release from this band, it is great to have this, their sophomore album in our hands. Still feeling like their debut work is fresh and enjoying several tracks as ethereal favorites, it’s great to have another seven spellbinding pieces on this album. Though breaking the pattern somewhat of their initial album of many tracks with ambient interludes between the ethereal and shoegaze masterpieces, we have just these seven solid selections, some which just meld the ambient and ethereal sounds while others grind away with siren-like vocals over equally soaring guitars and various reverb effects.
The opening piece “Le Spectre Concubine” is a combination of haunting ambient soundscapes, a ghostly spoken word and ethereal shoegaze which provides a nice intro to this dreamy album. This fades softly away into the distance as a definite favorite on this album comes out in all of it’s majestic beauty in the form of “Ivy Tree Shore”. The broken, softly strumming guitar chords mix with Dru’s beautiful vocals over somber bass and ambient musical strands weave together into a beautiful web that holds the listener entranced and spellbound throughout. The soaring guitars and angel-like vocals lift the listener’s heart to the heavens as the slowly, pulsating beat keep it moving along the magical rhythm. The haunting vocals and deep synths introduce us to “Chrysalis”, a darker, haunting piece with the grinding guitars and effects creating a dense emotional fog, while the soaring guitars keep you afloat in the hazy soundscapes. All of this slowly moves and floats along, slowly building and coming to a dynamic and powerful climax before fading off and giving way to the dreamy instrumental piece “Silvren”. While still equally spellbinding with all of the soft and dreamy ethereal ambient elements and ascending guitar, it serves as a sort of long interlude before presenting the latter half of the album.
At this point we’re presented with the title track of the album which is a pure masterpiece in ethereal shoegaze music. The somber, subtle percussion moves the music along while Dru’s vocals take the lead as the ambient sounds form the backdrop and in between verses, the guitar takes on a voice of it’s own as the various layers form one upon the other. The way these envelop the listener like soft, silky sheets one over the other makes this piece warm and inviting and equally hypnotic and enrapturing. Lasting just over seven minutes, at times I feel like it could go on forever and never become tiring or boring, simply beautiful. However, this isn’t the longest piece on the album as we’re presented with the ambient instrumental “Migration”. Taking on a sort of dark ambient nature this piece slowly moves along and depending on the mood of the listener, sometimes I find myself jumping to the next track as I long for more of the ethereal beauty, while at other times, just enjoying some somber background music makes this the perfect non-invasive soundtrack. The finale to the album “Into Lost and Away” brings out all the staple elements along with more undulating synthetic layers over a more moving, catchy rhythm all accented by dynamic guitars and dreamy vocals to create a perfect ending to this excellent album. Rating: 4.5/5
Reviews Editor –
From Jules Cohen
Mercury’s Antennae is a gathering of 3 veteran artists who know how to make dreampop/shoegaze goodness. The album Beneath the Serene starts with a breathy/ghostlike “Le Spectre Concubine”. Genius opener! Dru and Cindy have created magic here. Erick’s programming puts this into 2 minutes of bliss.
“Chrysalis” blows me away. Dru’s seasoned darkwave/ethereal vocals and Erick’s swirling sounds and Cindy’s collaborative veteran songwriting make this my go to track for haunted goodness. “Into Lost and Away” closes the album with promise of more to come from this trio. Fans of Cocteau Twins will enjoy. Dru’s vocals take us on a floating journey-very dreamy. The vision that Dru, Erick and Cindy have creates a fresh sound while paying homage to: Autumn, DCD, Cocteau Twins, FATM. This is a super sophomore album from Mercury’s Antennae.
Reviews Editor –
From Music TAP
Mercury’s Antennae is not only an intriguing name for a band, it also represents a band of intriguing possibilities. Mercury’s Antennae is made up of three members, all of whom are closely tied to the Darkwave movement. The angelic voice of Dru Allen, who originally sang with two legendary ethereal bands, Mirabilis, and This Ascension, highlight the vocal ranges on Mercury’s Antennae’s latest album, Beneath The Serene, released by noted ethereal and ambient label, Projekt Records. She’s assisted by Erick R. Scheid (Translucia), who supplies the band’s heavy dose of guitars and electric ambient flows, along with newcomer, Cindy Coulter, previously of This Ascension, and, Faith and The Muse, who completes the trio with her bass guitar.
Mercury’s Antennae uses a blend of ambient, heavenly vocals, and lush ethereal groundwork on their latest album, Beneath The Serene, to create a captivating selection of seven hypnotic tracks. Among them, you will hear enticing tunes that recall the mystery of Lycia, and the lush sound clouds of The Cocteau Twins. The opening track, “Le Spectre Concubine” exhibits an audio display of an unsettling ambient composition designed to open your mind to the possibilities of what Beneath The Serene can accomplish. After this short introduction, “Ivy Tree Shore” begins with a Lycia-fueled soundscape that is bewitched by the voice of Dru Allen. In fact, the influence of Lycia is felt throughout in a complimentary way. There are three extraordinary sound tracks (“Le Spectre Concubine”, “Silivren”, “Migration”). All seven tracks have directions that give Mercury’s Antennae a sense of beauty and rapture, a sense of deep purpose and depth. and, if you’ll forgive the usage, an absorbent serenity that the title promises.
You’re not going to come away untouched.
Aside from the digital download issue, Beneath The Serene is only being released in a Limited Edition of 300 CD copies. -Matt Rowe