Black Mountain: Black Mountain
Black Mountain, the front-line soldiers for the Black Mountain Army, an arts collective from Vancouver, British Columbia, write, perform and record music that speaks (and sings) to this realization: that solutions are rarely simple, that the world is as complex as it is ambiguous, and that music sprinkled with an inoculating dose of madness may well be the Pied Piper that takes us all back into the primordial mountain, where our hearts can be made steady and our minds can be set free. Their debut self-titled record, like a space probe built of erector set parts and transmitting secret and arcane messages to earth by string, charts territories unknown yet remains grounded by the roots of classic rock and roll. It is easy to discern these roots: Black Sabbath, Animals-era Pink Floyd, Blue Cheer, Led Zeppelin and Can. Principal songwriter Stephen McBean’s vocals are a smoother, bluesier amalgam of the voices of Neil Young, Mick Jagger and perhaps a James Brown loaded on cough syrup. And when Amber Webber’s voice joins Stephen’s, the combination brings to mind the potency and chemistry of Richard and Linda Thompson singing together on Shoot Out The Lights, or of Meat Loaf and Ellen Foley howling together on Bat Out Of Hell. Musical comparisons aside, the Black Mountain full-length is one part protest song, one part pop-cultural commentary, and one part sick-groove-rock casserole peppered with mesmerizing ballads and intoxicating ditties. “Modern Music” is the lead-off hitter and counts its way to the imposing and riff-rife “Don’t Run Our Hearts Around”. Immediately thereafter, the sludge-rock masterpiece “Druganaut” establishes the fecund heart and tone of the record. Black Mountain have also just recently released a 12-inch single (on Jagjaguwar), including an extended mix of “Druganaut” on the A-side. And the band’s currently sexploitative counterpart The Pink Mountaintops, a band that also pipes into the prolific well-spring of Stephen McBean’s mind, released their self-titled debut record (on Jagjaguwar as well) this past summer. A video by Heather Trawick of the song “Druganaut” is included on the CD version of the Black Mountain self-titled record.