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Black Mountain “In The Future” Review

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A few weeks back, during a discussion on what makes LCD Soundsystem’s “All My Friends” such a fantastic track, a friend of mine fell heavily into the details underlining his enjoyment of the song. “Patience eludes me,” he said, “I strive for patience, I so desperately want to learn musical patience.” “The beginning of ‘All My Friends’,” he continued, “The way it loops and contrapunts, reminds me very much of (American composer) Steve Reich, though Reich’s piece is from way back in 1976, and it transitions much more quickly at the start.” Unsurprisingly so, my friend was right, there is a beauty to music that eludes the ease of cannonballing into a break; there is a beauty to music that takes the time to dip its instrumental feet in the water before dramatically diving head first in minutes later. Such is a perfect way of describing Black Mountain’s sophomore release, In The Future.

The strength of Black Mountain’s latest comes from the anticipation over it gauges throughout the course of the album’s ten tracks. Bill Lipold of I Rock Cleveland solidifies this idea, citing the band’s tactic of approaching the album with enough security in itself to attempt to develop blood-curdling anticipation just as much as it works towards building each song’s eventual peak. Not to say that each track masterfully incorporates the act of surprise, but when it does the band can do no wrong.

For a group that has historically been linked to the often self-explanatory stoner rock, which may influenced its inclusion on Komodo Records’ 2006 Invaders compilation along side The Sword, Dungen and High on Fire, In The Future breaks free from pattern and restraint with every track. The album almost argumentatively suggests at times that its post-organ hard rock influence was on the break of taking over the album during its recording; as Pitchfork’s Adam Moerder commenting, “The eight-minute ‘Tyrants,’ sounds like a Middle Earth baptism by fire.” Opposing that, the Pink Floyd homage “Wild Wind,” contributes a gentler correspondence, suggesting that on the other side of that dark moon, decades later, we were always meant to hear a softer Black Mountain.

One of the many shining moments on the album comes in the form of “Evil Ways,” a song that admits its influences early on by the summoning of patriarchal big-band era jazz and “Hush“-era keyboards alike. But when hearing the track in the context in the album, its attraction comes partially as due to those surrounding it. What follows is the very “Wish You Were Here”-like “Wild Ways,” and what precedes is the “Queens Will Play,” a track which itself fails to peak until the very last minute suggesting it the rising action to the inevitable climax of “Evil Ways.” But even there, in the moments that follow, the album sheds any shape of predictability as Black Mountain shifts into “Bright Lights,” a near seventeen minute triumph.

And just as In The Future surfaces with the Amber Webber-lead “Night Walks,” the track vocally strong and sounding a faint bit orchestral, the band reflects on its dive and escapes the water, fleeing for seclusion, leaving the listener only to think about what they had just heard. A listener left thinking that if such a journey, full of such snowballing climaxes and fulfilling closures, was as good as they thought it through its first listen…it may just be better the second time around. I am one such listener.