Stationary Travels - Album Review & Feature

If you don’t know Jeff Mercel by name, there is a pretty good chance you have heard at least some of his music. A composer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist, Mercel was a contributing member of the pioneering American indie rock band Mercury Rev from their critically acclaimed album Deserter’s Songs in 1998 until leaving the band in 2010 to focus on composition for television and film. His work has appeared on major TV shows like CSI and This American Life and commercials for mega companies like Pepsi, BMW, & Google and he continues to work as a session musician, band member (Miracle Whips, Ultraam), as well as being national music director for O+ (a national non-profit, based in Kingston, NY that works to provide musicians & visual artists with access to health care).

The music for his first full-length solo recording under his own name, however, is a much more intimate affair and was recorded in his home “mostly in the kitchen, on a sometimes unruly upright piano”. Lunescapes Volume One is a shimmering collection of instrumental “vignettes, intimate landscapes, and lo-fi fantasies” rendered with the sure hands of a skilled composer and journeyman musician with a keen melodic ear.

Along with Mercel on piano and analog synths, the music is given added dimensions by guest musicians such as Jonathan Talbott (violin & viola), Jane Scarpantoni (cello), D. James Goodwin (pedal steel guitar), and Matthew Cullen (sonic manipulations).  The album has something of an episodic flow with subtle shifts in narrative, tone, & color, but the disarming lyricism and overarching reflective mood sustain an exquisite suspension of time from the mesmerizing opening sketch “No. 13” to the austere melancholy and tender swells of the final coda, “No. 11 (Long Distance Declaration)”.  Lunescapes Volume One is like a short novel that ends perfectly but you wish could still go on. The good news is that the sequel is on the way as the second volume is already in the works.

Lunescapes Volume One features cover art by Rachel White and is available on limited edition cassette via Psychic Troubles Tapes (50 copies) and on  vinyl LP directly from Mercel’s Bandcamp site where you can also find digital copies of his film scores as well.

Lunescapes Volume One Release Info & Tracklisting

At long last, I'm pleased to announce that my debut solo recording, Lunescapes Volume One is nearly ready for release. The record is mixed & mastered (we're just waiting on vinyl production to be completed) and will be made available later this winter, digitally as well as limited edition vinyl, CD & cassette via The Satellite Union & Psychic Troubles Tapes.

Recorded at home (mostly in the kitchen, on a sometimes unruly upright piano) the Lunescapes offer a series of instrumental vignettes, intimate landscapes, and lo-fi fantasies. Tracklisting & credits are as follows:

  1. Lunescape No. 13
  2. Lunescape No. 6 (for Larsen B)
  3. Lunescape No. 26
  4. Lunescape No. 17 (Taro)
  5. Lunescape No. 4
  6. Lunescape No. 2
  7. Lunescape No. 10 (Siri's Lament)
  8. Lunescape No. 1
  9. Lunescape No. 22 (You're Talking About Memories)
  10. Lunescape No. 11 (Long Distance Declaration)

Upright Piano, Analog synthesizers - Jeff Mercel // Pedal Steel Guitar - D. James Goodwin // Sonic Manipulations - Matthew Cullen // Violin & Viola - Jonathan Talbott // Cello - Jane Scarpantoni

Recorded at home by Jeff Mercel & Matthew Cullen // Additional recording by Jonathan Talbott // Mixed at The Isokon by D. James Goodwin // Mastered by Damon Whittemore at Valvetone // Cover image “Quo Vadis” by @rachelisdot // All music by Jeff Mercel / BMI ©2017


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All Christmases Past Digital Single OUT NOW!!!

(ICYMI) I wrote a little cowboy Christmas song a called “All Christmases Past” and it’s available for download via my bandcamp, iTunes & Amazon. And now, you can also stream via Spotify, Google Play & all the other usual outlets. A portion of download sales will be donated to Angel Food East, Inc. (a local food bank here in the Hudson Valley). Thanks for listening and Happy Hollidays!