Album Review: Desert Mountain Tribe – Either That Or The Moon

It was some time ago when I had my first introduction to Desert Mountain Tribe, with the release of their self-titled EP back in 2014 and a night of snapped strings and sound issues to a smattering of people in Manchester’s Dry Bar. All that being said, the guys were complete professionals and persevered. It is that attitude and the steps they have taken ever since that has led to their first LP release on Membran, ‘Either That Or The Moon’.Having experienced DMT live on several occasions, and it is quite an experience, I anticipated the album being special, but what they have delivered exceeds all expectations.

Opening with ‘Feel the Light’, the fuzzy intro sets the tone for the rest of the album, before the guitar prowess of Jonty Balls kicks in, and stays there. The melody created eases the listener in gently and for any uninitiated, it is a great track to open. The motorik drumming of Felix Jahn and the probing bass lines of Philipp Jahn make up the rest of the elements, and all before the vocals kick in. The balance of vocal and instrumental interludes ensures the listeners attention and leaves you with a sense of wonder as to what is going to happen next. The mid song space-felt instrumental is so insistent its impossible not to get drawn in deeper and deeper, until after some seven and half minutes the track is wound up.

We’re not left wanting for long and are treated to a revamped form of ‘Take A Ride’, it’s predecessor being a part of the EP release. The new version is polished and refined producing a fuller and clearer sound all round and when listened to side by side, the difference is audible. It’s a tribute to where the band have come from to see the inclusion of this as it always goes down well when played live with its subtle jangle and weighty guitar riff. ‘Midnight Sky’ is the first slower paced track we come across and the atmospheric opening melody accompanied by the heavy bass make for a heady mixture and the track enchants as it progresses. The voice of Jonty croons softly and the fact that all elements of the band can be heard at once is a testament to the great production job done on this record. The instrumental section which ends this track is simply mesmerising.

‘Heaven and Hell’ is a return to their heavier sound where the full musical ability of the trio is displayed to full effect. Repetition is the key to this one, and as the layers of sound build so does the intensity, so it’s quite apt that one of the main lyrics here is “I’m on fire”, as musically they really are. ‘Runway’ offers the fastest tempo track of the album with its unique interpretation on classical rock and roll, but all things considered this is guitar music at its finest. ‘Enos in Space’ is hot on its heels with its psychedelic tingles and added organ sound. The tempo stays fast and the pace of the track ensure that its impossible to stand still too long to this one. Arguably the most refreshing track on the album it once more exhibits the musical versatility of DMT.

‘Way Down’ is another weighty track which builds in gradual layers before coming to a noisy and empowering multi-element finish. ‘OC Dream’ is aptly named, as it is exactly like an aural journey through a dream induced state. The vocals rise and fall with the guitar and the bass intertwines; musically this is a very clever track as there is so much going on in there and yet it all sounds so simple when listening superficially.

Having seen ‘Interstellar’ live on a number of occasions, and experienced its raw power, to have the recorded version is something of a treat. Myself and a fellow music lover were stood watching this track live recently and almost simultaneously, we came out with the same sentence – “it’s the Wicked Game of psych”; it is and so much more. The opening melody is haunting, sending involuntary shivers down the spine before the full powerkicks in, knocking you sideways. The tempo slows to haunt once more as the vocals caress, the vocal range of Jonty is utilised magnificently here. The balance within this track comes across superbly on the record and as haunting as it is liverecorded it is almost eerie, especially mid song when the power of the trio is let loose. This track has so much going on its breath taking and it is so easy to get lost within, but this is certainly not a bad thing. In terms of leaving people wanting more, ending the album on ‘Interstellar’ with its abrupt ending will certainly ensure that.

Within this album there is a musical style split and the juxtaposition of the two as they compete creates an interesting effect; on one hand you have the guitar driven, bass pounding tracks such as ‘Take a Ride’, ‘Runway’ and ‘Heaven and Hell’, and on the other hand you have the spacey, melodic tracks such as ‘Midnight Sky’, ‘OC Dream’ and ‘Interstellar’. Two very different stylistic representations, but the tracks are positioned in such a way that they play off each other like old friends.

This LP has been anticipated by fans of the band for a long time, but on the back of it I would anticipate their being a whole new wave of people supporting and appreciating this band.

To order the album online:

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