This month, I have three albums that are all good to excellent. I think these three records are all quite different, but for some reason they also feel similar. Maybe I’ll explore that. Anyways, check out some brief thoughts about Electric Mud, Hanging Garden, and Mountaineer.
This Triple Feature has one band that I’ve covered before, one that I’ve known about but only just started covering, and one that is brand new to me. Electric Mud is the band that I’ve covered in the past. I’ve been covering their releases since 2018. The lineup on The Inner World Outside includes Nico Walser on lead guitar, synth, arrangements, and mixing; Hagen Bretschneider on bass; David Marlow on piano; Judith Retzlik on violins, violas, and cellos; Timo Aspelmeier on keyboards, drum programming, and percussion; and Andrea Weiß on programming.
Electric Mud is an interesting mixture of many styles. They play music that is definitely progressive rock inspired, but also progressive electronic. They use elements of jazz and classic rock, too, and the odd bit of film score. One song might be worlds apart from another. It’s just how they roll.
Because of this, it is easy to connect with some songs, while maybe not connecting with others. I think it is a sign of their range as musicians, but, nonetheless, sometimes I just don’t like some songs. This album is a solid one. I enjoyed it. However, I don’t think it has the same personality as 2018’s The Deconstruction of Light nor the Floydian abstractions of 2020’s Quiet Days on Earth.
I do really like the song “The Fear Within” for its dark tones and menacing vibes, “Those Who Leave the World Behind” for its striking organ, and “Silent Stranger” for its ambient, abstract, and textured feelings. “Sérotonine” is another good one with its gorgeous strings. “Descent into the Forsaken Valley” is still another shadowy and interesting, yet meandering track. I think that’s the main thrust of my thoughts here: some of the songs don’t go much of anywhere, and there are a couple I don’t like very much at all. Still, the majority of the tracks here are beautiful and exotic, though I would say only “The Fear Within” reaches the heights of their last two albums. Overall, this is a good album with some great songs, but I do prefer some of their previous works.
I have seen Hanging Garden’s music slide through my inbox many times. I’ve even sampled the music here and there. For some reason or another, nothing really caught my ear until I happened to hear a single from this new EP called Neither Moth nor Rust. I liked it enough to spark my curiosity.
Hanging Garden occupies an interesting space between post-rock, prog metal, doom, and alternative. They have the distortion of alternative, the dark emotion of doom, the technicality of prog metal, and the crescendo-laden tendencies of post-rock. Or something like that.
This EP is pretty close to a full album. It’s about 25 minutes long with six tracks, and it really doesn’t let up in energy or drive. The opening title track is a catchy song with a fantastic central vocal hook. The next track, “The Last Dance”, is similar in that regard, featuring plenty of heavy guitars. Yet, the very next song is “And Leave All Love Behind”, an ambient piece with haunting vocals. The band thus has some range.
My favorite song is the illustrious, artistic, and interesting single “On the Shore of Eternity”. I love the vocal lines, the pleasant beat, the melodic core, and the Tool vibes. The whole song just feels like shimmering shadows in a dim glow of light, and I can close my eyes and imagine that. The EP is pretty strong overall, and I think I need to revisit some of the band’s older works.
Mountaineer is a band that I just discovered, though they have been around for some time. Their new album Giving Up the Ghost caught my attention (I don’t even remember how or where), and I found myself listening to it in full after sampling it. I typically don’t do that. I usually like to sample and circle back around, but something about this release grabbed me.
They are similar in some regard to Hanging Garden, featuring post-rock and doom influences. But instead of being shadowy and evocative, they are heavy, sweaty, and raw. They have more in the way of harsh vocals, too, so the music comes across with a vicious and fierce tone. I specifically like the way their heavier guitars create a dark contrast for climbing, melodic guitar licks. It feels layered and active in that way.
The album isn’t all that long at only 32 minutes. It flies by quickly, yet satisfyingly. The band knows how to linger on emotional moments or ambient portions, such as on the fantastically dynamic “Blot Out the Sun”, probably my favorite on the album. I love the transitions and life in that song.
“Bed of Flowers” is another good one, being a little more accessible and melodic. “Touch the Glass” is a heavy and powerful track that has a great effect. “Twin Flame” is more emotional and climactic in structure, and it could have been a great closer, honestly. I do like how “Giving Up” takes the melodic cue from the end of “Twin Flame”, though, and it eases us into the finish with grace and candor. Overall, the record is really good, structured thoughtfully both in individual tracks and also as a full album. It leaves a lasting weight almost immediately.
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