Pantaleimon - Mercy Oceans [Durtro Jnana - 2007]Mercy Oceans is the second album by Pantaleimon, a David Tibet-endorsed project which revolving around Andrea Degens. She sings and accompanies herself mainly on an Appalachian Dulcimer and she has help from some of her friends. Isobel Campbell of Belle and Sebastian (and fresh from a couple of collaborations with Mark Lanegan) provides cello, backing vox, piano and glockenspiel, and Baby Dee, another Tibet favorite, adds harp to a couple tracks. Keith Woods of Hush Arbors contributes some fine finger-picked guitar which is tastefully employed and entirely appropriate to the mellow, organic tunes. Degens' vocals are soft and hushed, yet imbued with spiritual longing. The multi-tracked singing is undeniably pleasant and inoffensive. The whispered tone, which is spread throughout the entire album can become a bit confining, because there isn't a whole lot of variety in the tone. But Degens manages just enough in the way of minute variations in the songwriting to keep this album a level above tea-time fare.
The music is uncomplicated and relaxed, which makes it entirely inoffensive, yet at the same time approachable and warm. The longer tunes, which are the most successful, are bolstered by Degens' ability to create lovely background drones with a variety of instruments. She is at her peak during these moments, because there is a disingenuous home-spun quality which comes through. If the music was entirely worked out before hand, it's not evident, because there is no weight of pretense. As for the rest of the album, there are some other musical variations, mostly along the lines of Degens' own version of folk music. These tunes are interesting, but they do sound a bit more constricted than the longer droney pieces. Mercy Oceans on the first spin is so light and airy that it may pass you by like a cloud on the breeze. But if you give it half a chance, it may win you over with its unassuming charm.Erwin Michelfelder