Australian five-piece Mt. Mountain released their fourth LP last week, Centre, via London’s Fuzz Club Records. Hailing from Perth they delve into sprawling, motorik psychedelic rock sound that journeys between tranquil, drone-like meditations and raucous, full-throttle wig-outs that’ll blow your mind as much as your speakers. Taking cues from Krautrock pioneers like Neu! and Can whilst existing in a similar world to contemporaries like Moon Duo, Kikagaku Moyo and Minami Deutsch, Mt. Mountain are formidable torchbearers of the minimal-is-maximal tradition. Musically, the band’s sound is born out of long improvised jams so naturally much of the album was recorded live to capture the band at their most freewheeling.
Growing up surrounded by religion but not a follower himself, Stephen Bailey (vocals/organs/flute) describes how, thematically, much of the album is a dissection of faith – both spiritual and secular – and his personal, often complicated relation to it: “The album for me, lyrically, is mostly about my experience of religion. It explores these concepts and the rules that were told to me from childhood to adulthood and my thoughts on my own connection to them. Similar themes arise between the tracks whether it be lyrically or structural, both a play on repetition and simplicity.”
Opening ‘Tassels’ is an exercise in unrelenting kosmische mastery and Stephen reflects: “I feel a disconnect to the idea of afterlife and all the rules in order to get you there. But I’m also not certain of anything, which is what this song is about”. The motorik beat drives the track and its easy to feel you’ve slipped back to West Germany in the early 70s but for the vocals which are right from the now. ‘Hands Together’ is more spaced out, with a slower countenance and less manic feel, we are told it is about “the end of the world and non-Christian people praying in uncertain times and ultimately nothing coming of it. ‘Dawn’ takes a chapter straight out of the likes of Minami Deutsch, with a hypnotic effect that is broken down into its respective elements mid-way. ‘The List’ continues this vibe, combining the best parts of psychedelia and krautrock to create something all Mt Mountain. ‘Two Minds’ is a slow-burning beauty about “helping someone close to me (Stephen) with drug addiction and balancing my involvement within that. Something reminiscent of the phrase ‘You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink’ describes the situation best”. The hazy vocals create dreamy soundscapes which don’t tie in with its contents, yet show that inspiration can come from any source.
‘Aplomb’ was one of the first songs written for the album and marked a conscious shift of focus towards more rhythmic patterns within their music and standards in stark contrast to the last few tracks. “‘Aplomb’ is essentially the voice that I hear in my head” explains Stephen, “reminding me to not rush and slow down, and to have the confidence to bring this into practice in everyday life. We wanted there to be this clear contrast here between the tempo of the song and the lyrical content, an approach which appears throughout the album.” ‘Peregrination’ is a jam song that slowly evolved over months without any prescribed direction, they explain that “at the end of recording, the path to get there has been stretched so long that there is barely any recollection of how the song came into existence in the first place”, the band reflect. It’s a track that takes musical influence from across the spectrum and yet doesn’t sound like anything you can really discern – a testament itself. ‘Second Home’ is a piece of stunning krautrock, with an infectious motorik beat, edgy vocal style and driving guitar lines that get under your skin. ‘Second Home’ is “a play on afterlife, our second home not being heaven or hell but here on earth”. It’s taut from the offset and is executed with purpose and the beat once more leads the way. Concluding ‘Deluge’ is softer, mellower and closes things off with genuine beauty.
Centre is an exploration of sound, it delved the inner depths of krautrock and psychedelia and in it Mt. Mountain create something with depth and beauty that is a pleasure to explore.