Monday, September 6, 2010

Black Mountain


Wilderness Heart
Jagjaguwar/Inertia

Why a psych-rock outfit from Vancouver deems it necessary to relocate in order to build their next release between Seattle and L.A. is beyond me. The resultant effort Wilderness Heart reeks of discarding their collective identity and reinventing themselves as a more commercially viable product. The thing reads like a recipe: fast, slow, fast, slow, fast, power-ballad to heartfelt soul-searcher, and universality-of-consciousness-themed nonsense.
Black Mountain’s 2008 LP In The Future solidified the group as a bona fide soldier in the ranks of psychedelic rock-n-roll. They were a band that felt self-assured enough to shun the mainstream in pursuit of their own creative freedoms and leftist leanings. In stark contrast, the new record sounds like they’ve gone out, bought beachside property, invested in the stock market and listened to nothing but hard-rock and 1970s fantasy-themed concept albums from their bear-skin couches.
The opening number ‘The Hair Song’ is inoffensive enough but hardly comparable to the explosion of In The Future’s opener ‘Stormy High’. Sadly the recording slides steadily downhill from there with a two, three, four combination that smacks of insincerity in its soaring-eagle clich├ęs and unsurprising sine-wave tempo shifts. We’re granted brief reprieve from the sickening grandeur of the thing with seventh track ‘The Way To Gone’, and then callously thrown back to the OTT theatrics of the title song.
The biggest disappointment here is that I don’t get a sense this is supposed to be funny. What could make for fantastic comedy-rock-opera, complete with exploding buildings and flying angel stage props (a-la Tenacious D), is weighed down by the gravity of belief that Black Mountain bring—they deny the listener the opportunity to laugh. One can only hope this is a minor pot-hole in the street of their story as they’ve shown us much more in the past.

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