Black Mountain


Mass Datura

Suspect incense aside, the support act is the numerical equivalent of a half-dozen; they possess the standard line-up of bassist, drummer and guitarist; but to pad out the sound they have a synthe…sist, violinist and a handler of lap steel. The venue’s sound fails to properly accommodate the band’s ‘busy’ style, sounding akin to an independent label production of a record, with the added inconvenience of a woollen blanket being thrown on each of the hypothetically recording mics present. The usage of the male-female harmonies is a nice touch, but the Black Francis-esque spoken word breakdowns did start to grate (yelps were neat however) in conjunction with the recurring ‘aaaaaahs’; I respect the lack of instrumental indulgence on each of the players as they served collective purpose (as a band should), highlighting some promise. Going further, the latter songs of the set reduced my negative opinion with reasonable significance; at certain points it had that Visit Scotland advertisement-soundtrack quality.

Black Mountain

With a style veering between metallic and ethereal (emphasis varies), Black Mountain appear to attempt to fuse these opposing spectrums with limited success. Sound issues aside, the backing vocalist (and very occasional synth-player) is far more technically gifted as a singer than the frontman/guitarist; her underutilisation a salient factor in my growing disdain of this band, it could very well have brought about a reversal. The tone and playing style of the guitar comes across as rather generic, from the Melvins’ like fulfilments to the 1990’s Japanese-made sporting game backing track feel of the earlier songs; the power-chord laden technical skill all but wasted and feeling a little on the square side by today’s standards. One segment in particular irked me, I don’t know how or why this transpired, but it appears every band of the present day has this legislated obligation to engage in a ‘funk’ passage no matter how far removed it is from the artist’s sonic ethos; as if trying to deceive the audience into whispering to one another “Hmm, eclectic”.

Rhythmically, the drums are heavy-handed (as expected) and competently played, but the bass might as well be another unnecessary layer to the earful that is the excessive reverberation; I suppose I can relate to Pete Townshend now. Dissecting the ethereal side; the usage of the synthesizers (a few in inventory) come across as tacked on, the playing displaying virtuosity yet failing to give the band the identity they probably think they have. As time elapses, the later tracks have a predictably climatic feel that inadvertently protracts the momentum to the point that it extinguishes any excitement at hand, a set-list revamp likely required as one doesn’t usually wish a gig would end but in this case not even a bell could save me.

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Angus Rolland

Recent career decisions have compelled me into the journalistic... thing; I could list my literary influences or even debate which 3rd rate beverage has the best economic value per litre (But I won’t). Oh, in addition, I write reviews for the Independents Network.