06 Oct 2022 - Simon
Post-Rock, Post-Metal | Trepanation Records | Release date: 21 Oct 2020
Mountainscape come roaring out of the gate with their stunning second album which makes a mockery of the difficult ‘second album syndrome’!
Instrumental music is a strange beast. Some dismiss it out of hand (like my wife for example!) and others fully embrace the possibilities that it can open up. One thing is not open for debate though, and that is: instrumental music is hard to do, or more precisely, it’s very hard to do well. It takes a certain mindset as a musician to conjure something which holds people’s attention without the focal point of a front person or lyrics to hang your hat on. Painting a picture without words is difficult, very difficult, so when a band manages to produce something which not only holds your attention but keeps it held in a vice-like grip, well, it’s time to sit up and shine a light on that band.
The band in this case are Mountainscape and they are from Reading. This is their sophomore album Atoms Unfurling which follows the already impressive Acceptance (which you should also check out by the way) and they have blown away any notion of the ‘difficult second album’ thing by improving on just about every aspect of their sound with almost wanton abandon. It’s thrilling to see a band fully emerge from the chrysalis of potential into an awe-inspiring butterfly of realisation.
The album contains all the touching stones of Post-Rock and Post-Metal, but it’s the WAY in which it’s constructed is what makes it special. Opening song “Awakening” sets the scene for the rest of the album in the best way possible, its mid-tempo brooding nature feels like sitting on a beach and watching ominous thunder clouds slowly roll towards your den of idyllic sanctitude, beautiful, but with a devilish tringle of fear running down the spine, exhilarating in the best way possible.
Standout song and titletrack “Atoms Unfurling” is one of the finest Post-Metal songs released this year, it encapsulates everything which is great about the genre, without ever falling foul of cliché. There are approximately three movements to the song which flow organically to create something special. The ambient moments form an essential part of the fabric of the song which would feel empty without them. Then when the time comes for the tsunami of sound to come crashing over you, the pent-up energy is released at exactly the right moment for maximum impact. The almost cathartic blast-beats towards the end feel euphoric in their emotional release, and I haven’t even mentioned the stunning musicianship on display; honestly, every time I listen to this song, it transports me to a very appealing mind space, introspection hits me and I’m travelling the deepest trenches of my subconscious pondering the nature of things, then the song finishes and I feel sad that’s it’s stopped.
I could go on and on but suffice to say, this is a stunning album and whilst I tend towards hyperbole, this collection of songs has come out of nowhere to elbow its way onto my Album of the Year list. The use of dynamics on this album is exemplary and the almost surprising amount of melody coupled with the attention to detail and sporadic use of really quite heavy sections make a heady gumbo of sonic prowess which is hard to deny. Honestly, if you like instrumental music of any kind then please listen to this album, these guys deserve all of the hype they have been getting and more. Outstanding work.