There are times when I listen to Black Mountain IV and I simply cannot believe that it has only been around since 2016. I seem to have been blasting it out for decades longer than that. I have a whole legion of memories all hazed up in its’ grooves.
F’rinstance I only have to crank up the jittery sugar rushing rock of ‘Florian Saucer Attack’ to be taken back to that time when Gregg, Spaceman, Ads and I made that rope swing over the pool on the river. I can remember the shock of the cold water and that riff, loud but tinny on our crap speakers as I surfaced, laughing, shrieking.
The emphatically martial staccato synth pop of ‘You Can Dream’ makes me think back to the VW Beetle and that fuck awful row we had, that blessedly/cussedly silent drive home over the moors that she hated and was so welcome to me*.
‘Defector’ was the only thing I could bear to listen to last time I was all up in … actually, that story isn’t for here; sorry folks. But am I the only one who noticed that it steals its’ melody wholesale from Pink Floyd’s ‘Young Lust’? thought so.
The insanely classy ‘Mothers Of The Sun’, stately and frenzied in equal measure has definitely sound tracked some of my more memorable hang gliding trips. Those chords just grab me so hard that stopped listening to it in the car on the way down because I kept drumming rather than steering, riffing rather than gearing.
I can’t remember when it was but ‘Constellations’ churn and fuzzy sneer is the sound of my getting inadvisably invertebrated one time. I can’t remember exactly when it was but the fact there was strong daylight in my memory as I was lying there on the floor listening to it. Don’t judge me! It was comfortable down there, some hitherto unexplored acoustic quality in the carpet made everything sound, so heavy and free; relenetless and dusty.
The folky ‘Line Them All Up’ with its’ great vocal from Amber Webber and fancy pants instrumental flourishes draws more of a blank from the bank. It never picked up any layers from my life, maybe the purity of it forbade it.
The Bowie via Placebo via Maz Manson scary monstering of ‘Cemetery Breeding’ just hits me back to good times, white thighs, laughing and singing along loudly to the ‘fucking in the graveyard’ line. It tastes just like vodka orange and everyone trying to talk at the same time.
Then as the final 30% of IV gets all Black Mountain Floyd the memory train roars off down the tracks leaving me in the here and now, leaving me grooving to the band’s unmatched ability to sound classic and contemporary in equal measure. My favourite tonight** is ‘(Over And Over) The Chain’, Floyd chords, a Stone Roses shuffle-beat and a sublime Black Mountain melody, it can’t be beat.
There’s an appropriate plea for salvation in the almost-country-prog of ‘Crucify Me’ dripping from every vibration, before ‘Space To Bakersfield’ just sits you down and wraps you in it’s big heavy, melancholy blanket for your own psychic safety as it heads off into the long, funky nacht.
Does it matter that I just invented each and every one of those memories? of course it doesn’t, IV just sounds like great music you’ve wanted to live with all your puny life. The fact that you haven’t is sort of one of those big irrelevant-y things, you should have.
Does it matter that classic-sounding as IV is, it’s a relatively new LP? of course it doesn’t, it’s a bright red rock rocket of hope. It is a monumental thing, sculpted in the right spirit of joy and beauty, an exploration of form and content; not a cobbled-together aping of others’ past glories. Oh and it fucking rocks.
One final note here the production on IV, by Randall Dunn and the band is some of the very best modern rock production I’ve heard. This is a great sounding record, warm below, crisp up top^*.
PS: one final final note here, I love Black Mountain, have done since the early days but why, oh why – first LP excepted, is their cover art so consistently poo? Is it some sort of celestial handicapping system that the Gods have imposed upon us? Why?
*or at least until she remarked that it sounded like Big Country and I fell in love with her all over again.
**and surely what better marker is there of a classic rock LP than to have one’s favourite track shift, almost nightly depending on whim, wham and want.
^*much like myself.