Old School Prog Rock Through the Lens of Latter Day Dissonance

Mercury Falls exists in the endless space between dreaming and awareness, light and dark, thought and expression. The  band’s music moves in countless directions at the same time, but without confusion or cacophony. It’s quiet, but not ambient, it’s free, but not formless.  As Mercury Falls pull you deeper into their own singular world, musical phrases rise and fall and spin together without any obvious logic or resolution, inviting you to open your mind and drift into a comforting space where sound is the only reality.

Mercury Falls is Patrick Cress, sax and composition; Roger Riedlbauer, guitar, composition and electronics; Tonya Ridgely, vocals, flute; Rob Ewing, electric bass; and drummer Aaron Kierbel. The quintet brings years of experience in jazz, folk, pop, experimental, electronic and world music to Quadrangle, an album with seven interconnected tracks that flow together like a suite. The music can suggest West Coast cool jazz, the sounds of a tropical forest, experiential indie rock and the dark, creaky rhythms of a passing carnival, but doesn’t really sound like anything you’ve heard before.

Patrick Cress has recorded with and played with an eclectic array of notable musicians and artists over the years including the String Cheese Incident, Joanna Newsom, John Clayton, Lee Presson and the Nails, Nancy Ostrovsky, Scott Amendola, Joe Bagale, Boostamonte, Disappear Incompletely, Seth Augustus, John Shifflet, Michelle Amador, Tim Bulkley, and Aaron Novik. He has also lead or co-directed many ensembles in the Bay Area since 2002, including Telepathy, Ah LaRocca, Bulkleycress, Blicker, Acá, Mercury Falls, Octagon, and the Reset Quintet.

Cress has been the recipient of the American Composers Forum, SF Bay Area Chapter, Subito program three times since 2005.   He was awarded the grant in 2005 for the Octagon project, and in 2009 for his solo work, ‘Yosemite Soundscapes, the View From Above.’

The Members of Mercury Falls:

Patrick Cress :: Saxophones, Electronics

Graduating with a bachelor’s in music at the University of Michigan in 1998, Patrick Cress was schooled by Donald Walden’s strict jazz theory and Donald Sinta’s brilliant musical mind.   It was there that he conceived the concept for Telepathy (baritone saxophone, bass clarinet, upright, drums), his brainchild, after heavy influences of Ornette Coleman and Tim Berne.  Founded in March 2002, Telepathy has recorded three albums, as well as performed both nationally and internationally. The group features some of the Bay Area’s finest musicians and has played for diverse audiences at San Francisco’s ODC Theater, Oakland’s Café Van Kleef, Berkeley’s Zipper Festival, L.A.’s the Mint, Santa Monica’s Temple Bar, Portland’s Mt. Tabor Theater, and Vancouver’s Sugar Refinery.

Cress has performed and composed with dance for over a decade.  He started by forming his own music and dance improvisation company, the Pax Ensemble, at the University of Michigan in 1998.  Since then, he has been music director for Dandelion Dancetheater’s Undressed Phase II and Octagon. In those experiences, and other cameos including Kunst-Stoff, Kara Davis’ Improv. Jam, and with Ledoh’s Salt Farm, Cress has performed or created scores to accompany a wide variety of choreography.

Using live loops and effects and two-decades of acoustic alto and baritone saxophone experience, Cress has performed in numerous electronic incarnations.  He has performed solo since July ’05 focusing on simple, popular melodies (by composers such as Mussorgsky, Ornette Coleman, Sleepy Time Gorrilla Museum,  Radiohead) and expands them in his own voice.  In addition, Cress helps lead the Acá trio, an orignial ambient, experimental ensemble.  He has also performed with Bulkleycress, an electro-acoustic duo that combines two intuitive improvisers who have worked together since March 2002.

Cress has played with an eclectic array of notable musicians and artists over the years including the String Cheese Incident, John Clayton, Nancy Ostrovsky, Scott Amendola, Boostamonte, Disappear Incompletely, John Shifflet, Tim Bulkley, and Aaron Novik. He has also lead or co-directed many ensembles in the Bay Area since 2002, including Telepathy, Ah LaRocca, Bulkleycress, Blicker, Acá, and Mercury Falls.

Roger Riedlbauer :: Guitar, Electronics

Roger Riedlbauer’s varied projects have gained him recognition as both a versatile and gifted guitarist. Studying improvisation and composition under Art Johnson and Rick Helzer at SDSU, he relocated to the Bay Area in 1997, where he began composing and performing as a freelance guitarist.

The ease with which Riedlbauer approaches his instrument, is such that can only be gained from years of experience. His technical mastery and diverse musical palette, allow him to shift effortlessly from delicate melodies to gritty heart-stopping noise. There may be a surplus of guitarists, but few share these rare qualities which have attracted musicians and audiences alike.

Riedlbauer has established himself as a vital member of the music scene, performing with Jolie Holland, Sean Hayes, the Halifax Pier, and Odessa Chen and collaborating with numerous filmmakers and visual artists for multi-media performances. Serving as lead guitarist for noir rock band Boxcar Saints and experimental jazz ensemble Transmission, Riedlbauer has recently expanded his range to include songwriter and singer for the band the Cannery, on Awful Bliss Records.

While he has toured extensively in both the U.S. and abroad, Riedlbauer has also made his mark as a recording artist. His catalog includes Last Things (Boxcar Saints), There Is Life In This Old Land (the Cannery), Hollow Sea (Transmission), and All is Fair (Gojogo).

Whether he is composing, performing, producing, or teaching, Riedlbauer brings his own unique voice and a level of excellence to all he accomplishes.

Tbird Luv :: Vocals, Flute

magine Peruvian Princess Yma Sumac, The Dead Can Dance & Ghana’s Captain Yaba, getting together in a big fat orgy inside of a Bedouin tent making a baby. In a world where true musicianship and style knows no borders, Tbird Luv trail blazes the path of “next level” integrated musical genres of various kinds. Drawing upon experimental world music, indie rock, gypsy- acoustic, blues, & classical music, Tbird brings a heartfelt message of co-creative experimentation directly derived out of pure LOVE.

Tbird’s MUSE-i-cal genius is about taking risks and creating beauty all at the same time. Her music promotes our own subjective beauty and to “make the world a better place” from our unique point of view and hopes to inspire all of us to take whatever we find beautiful and stand behind it, support it & proliferate it and make it an important part in the evolution of our species.

At the age of sixteen, she performed in The Side by Side Concert with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Lorin Maazel and in 1995, she spent a lot of time at The Pittsburgh National Aviary imitating birds, wind and water on her flute. And although Classical Music was her first love at that time, she realized after playing with birds, that it was no longer her only interest. From then on, Nature has had a large influence on her; leading her to train in aspects of shamanism, sound, color and movement therapy.

Known as one of the leading contemporary flautist who dared to go well beyond the adventurous terrain the modernist flute player, she combines extended techniques for flute that sound like bird calls, growls and wind sounds, and vamps them together with vocal harmonies. Metaphorically, she takes audiences on journeys into Africa, South East Asia jungles and caves and mountain tops.

With a solid Classical Music foundation from Carnegie Mellon University and a World Music and Dance foundation at the California Institute of the Arts, Tbird has developed an enormously diverse way of conveying music through flute and voice. Peter Gabriel’s ‘Passion Album’ also instigated her to move beyond western tonality and collaborate with Master musicians like Ry Cooder, USA, Ustad Hossein Alizadeth, Iran, and Nyoman Wenten, Bali, Indonesia. www.tbirdluvmusic.com

Sam Bevan :: Upright Bass, Electric Bass

Since moving to San Francisco in 1999, Sam Bevan has established himself as one of the most versatile and creative bassists in the Bay Area. Bevan is able to canvas a large musical landscape where jazz, funk, r&b, folk and Afro-Cuban disciplines joyously intermingle. His sound is in response to the history of modern jazz, yet it’s his composer’s ear which informs his overall concept. Bevan explains, “Since I began my musical life as a pianist, including experiences composing and arranging for pop/rock, jazz and salsa bands, I have gained a much broader sense of the role of the bass. I am very content providing support and feel as a part of the rhythm section, as well as listening for appropriate moments to push the music into new territory. My goal is to introduce interpretations of the music which are interesting and creative without compromising the lead melodic instrument.”

The foundation was laid for Bevan’s career where he began classical piano lessons at the age of four. Sam’s adoption of the electric and acoustic bass followed periods playing jazz and classical piano, singing professionally and getting a BA in French. After attending college in Salt Lake City, he now resides a few miles from where he was born in Oakland, California.

Throughout his professional life, Sam has had the opportunity to work with a wide range of artists including: David Grisman, Joe Craven, Geoff Muldaur, Jim Kweskin, Roswell Rudd, Kenny Washington, Mary Wilson, Barbara Morrison, Jacqui Naylor,Bjorkestra, Industrial Jazz Group, Mark Levine, Joe Locke, Matt Flinner, Scott Nygaard, Fito Reinoso, Louie “Timbalito” Romero, Jesus Diaz, Carlos Caro, Karl Perazzo, Raul Pineda, Marco Granados, Jackie Rago, The VNote Ensemble, Mamadou Sidibe, Monk’s Music Trio, Loose Wig, Dave Ellis, Steve Lippia,Lisa Engelken, Ellen Robinson, Chelle & Friends, the Kin, New Pickle Family Circus, Stevie Coyle, Walter Strauss, Calaveras, Telepathy, Nathan Clevenger Group, Ian Dogole & Hemispheres, Fil Lorenz Orchestra and the Contemporary Jazz Orchestra.

Aaron Kierbel :: Drums, Samples

Aaron Kierbel is a drummer, teaching artist and Rhythmallogist. He has toured the world many times over with the genre defying group “Rupa and the April Fishes,” and plays with many local artists including Jazz Mafia and the San Francisco Mime Troup. He teaches critical thinking skills and violence prevention to youth of all ages in the Bay Area using drumming, dancing and singing through organizations such as Destiny Arts, Performing Arts Workshop and Bread and Roses.