MOUNTAIN – Evolve | Aristocrazia Webzine


Band: Mountain
Title: Evolve
Year: 2016
Country: Austria
Label: Shunu Records

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Translation: Oneiros

  1. Hawking
  2. Stugor
  3. Verminest
  4. Deeds, Grammar And What You Make Of It
  5. Ahram
  6. Savage Landor
  7. Mondo Kane

Delicate lines, mild but intense colours, meaningful and yet disturbing pictures: these are the first elements that met my eyes and got my attention when I first met the Austrian band Mountain's debut album, "Evolve". The main character of the cover is a half-man in which a natural Mother Earth-ish core and a mechanical one made of screws, bolts and gears coexist. Technology is slowly overcoming Mother Nature: where will this path lead us? The scenarios in the booklet, made of monitors abandoned into the forest and big, winged animals flying over metallic scrap with a red sky as background, appear to be a quite familiar and surely disturbing image.

The music, which connects itself to these post-apocalyptish contexts, is definitely exquisite. This experimental post-rock flavoured disc made of seven instrumental tracks that blend clean and calm sounds with rough, heavy and distorted ones starts with "Hawking", whose name recalls the dichotomous nature-technology theme; those two sounds alternate, gather, unite and try to get on top of the other over the whole almost-eight minutes of the song. However, a more atmospheric trace, also fed by some vague keyboards, appears in "Stugor" and "Verminest", whilst continuous interruptions and time and groove changes — coming from a more progressive style — keep the listener focused, as into "Deeds, Grammar And What You Make Of It".

"Ahram"'s intro doesn't disdain some quite evident Doom infiltrations, immediately followed by such a wonderful chord sequence that I have to mention this song as my «Personal favourite». As it comes to end with an unexpected blast beat surrounded by keyboards and dreamlike sounds, the song stops all of a sudden while "Savage Landor", the sixth track, begins. Its intro, The Ink Spots' "I Don't Want To Set The World On Fire", suddenly disappears into a claustrophobic, sinister atmosphere that is the scenery in which Walter Savage Landor's "Dying Speech Of An Old Philosopher" moves in:

«I strove with none, for none was worth my strife:
Nature I loved, and, next to Nature, Art:
I warm'd both hands before the fire of Life;
It sinks; and I am ready to depart»

These are solemn premises for an apparently calm track that actually is not, as it hides worries and fears. And here it comes once again, another long quote to share truth and spread hope, this time with the Irish poet Séamus Heaney's words, taken from "The Cure Of Troy":

«Human beings suffer
They torture one another
They get hurt and get hard

No poem or play or song
Can fully right a wrong
Inflicted and endured

History says, don't hope
On this side of the grave

But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up
And hope and history rhyme

So hope for a great sea-change
On the far side of revenge

Believe that further shore
Is reachable from here

Believe in miracle
And cures and healing wells

Call miracle self-healing:
The utter, self-revealing
Double-take of feeling

If there's fire on the mountain
Or lightning and storm
And a god speaks from the sky

That means someone is hearing
The outcry and the birth-cry
Of new life at its term»

Indeed these are words of comfort, accompanied by a gradual change in background sounds, that puts the anxiety aside in favour of more gentle tones. The last track of "Evolve" is the number seven, "Mondo Kane", that despite its title keeps on walking the same path of its predecessor, with its calm and relaxed mood.

This disc is a true journey through modernity, made of blots and Nature rapes, but also of hope for change and communion with the world. The last page of the booklet shows a bear and a man, from whose head come branches and leaves, watching the sun together from a mountaintop, and with the same optimism I'd like to wish to Mountain all the best, hoping they'll keep on walking this very path they've chosen.