Review Summary: A great split LP featuring hardcore band 'Balboa', but it may have been better without their completely different approach to atmosphere.
Those of you who already know of Rosetta will know how ambitious and creative this group is. Considering that, the name of this split should come as no surprise to you, and infact, should be quite expected. Project Mercury was the name of the U.S space program that put a human in orbit in 1959. Seeing as Rosetta's discography is a story of space travel littered with vocabulary and themes such as this, the name should actually be quite obvious.
What's not expected on this split is the other band on it. Hardcore band Balboa's themes dont usually cross with Rosetta's, and after hearing this album, it's clear why. it's not that Balboa doesn't add to the atmospheric feel of a Rosetta song, which they do, quite well, during the beginning of their songs. It's not that Balboa isn't 'heavy' enough for Rosetta, which they surely are. The thing that makes these two not fit is their individually unique sounds. While Rosetta goes from beautiful introductions that reminisce of floating in through space, to simply gorgeous melodic passages that tell the tales of said things, Balboa goes from the same feeling, to fast, heavy hardcore, which, though it may be well-written and executed in itself (it is), does not fit together with a band such as Rosetta. That being said, I quite enjoyed this album, though I would have released 2 different EP's.
The LP opens with Balboa for the first 3 songs. Primitive Accumulation is a truly pretty song in it opening, and lasts that way for about a minute and a half before all hell breaks loose. The rest of the (short) song is screamed and blastbeated away with thick distortion. 'Kaddish' doesnt follow this pattern however, as it goes from another breathtaking intro to another fast heavy part typical of this band, but then breaks the mold by going into a light, cleanly plucked out journey of guitar-work for the remaining 7 minutes, only filling the last 40 seonds with the same heavyness. The final Balboa song, 'Planet Of Slums', is actually quite gorgeous, starting with distrotion, at about a minute it gets lighter, though not quite yet. This song includes singing, which actually adds quite nicely to it. It ends pretty quietly, which is a perfect prelude to the Rosetta half of the split.
TMA-1 starts softly and is the most stunning instrumental this band has ever released, spanning over ten minutes, it goes between heavy and light, but doesnt break it's feel. I've come to expect this kind of emotional sound and progressive songwriting form Rosetta. The next song isn't any shorter though, as 'Clavius' reaches almost 12 minutes, typical of the genre. Clavius is my favourite song on the album, and also uses the 'big-small, heavy-light' songwriting style.
The last song, conveniently titled 'Project Mercury', is apparently played by both bands. Although I'm not sure of the combination of who exaclty is playing/writing, this song reaks of Rosetta's sound to come, on Wake/Lift. It sounds like 1 guitarist of each band sound-wise. It is also instrumental, lasting over 8 minutes, and is a very satisfying end to such a strange and complicated album.
All in all, this Project Mercury is great, though as I said before the choice of bands together changed the mood signifigantly than a full Rosetta or full Balboa release, but perhaps that was the desire.