Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Enchanter Persuaded - Sinoia Caves,
Axis of Evol - Pink Mountaintops (#8, 2006)

Black Mountain certainly is a strange cast of characters. These two side projects couldn't be more different, from each other and from their main gig. Sinoia Caves is keyboardist Jeremy Schmidt, who also does album art as a sideline. The early-'70s prog and Krautsynth influences are crystal clear. Pink Mountaintops comes from singer-guitarist Stephen McBean exploring lo-fi indie-folk, garbage-funk, and beatbox drone-gospel.

"Naro Way" from The Enchanter Persuaded (2006)

Schmidt's art (for this, Black Mountain, Zombi, and Majeure) recalls the early-'70s glory days of UK rock arthouse Hipgnosis, forever to be linked with Pink Floyd covers. Rick Wright on synthesizer would be a proper touchstone, and to be honest, Rick Wakeman too - although I can't imagine him wearing a cape or eating dinner during a show. Epic #1, "Dwarf Reaching The Arch Wonder," opens the album with a swirling ambience, journeying through the underworld and outer space, maybe Middle Earth too. "Naro Way" was all over Top 40 radio in some wonderful alternate dimension, but atypical here with its vocals, guitar, and inviting rhythms. The next two songs provide a perfect balance between its directness and the otherwise epic sprawl. Check them out here:

"Through the Valley" and "The Wicker Chair"

Groovy! Can you dig it? Epic #2, "Sundown in the New Arcades (Milky Way Echo)," makes it about as explicit as possible, verging on a sound-sample collage of Pink Floyd's "Echoes" (but just the spaciest parts). I'm not sure if final track, "Evil Ball," intentionally references the Loknar. But it would definitely make suitable soundtrack for M├ętal Hurlant illustrations. So now it is.

"Comas" and "Cold Criminals" from Axis of Evol (2006)

The no-beat "Comas" leads into the downbeat "Cold Criminals," having like many songs the distored sound of a reverse-engineered dashboard casette deck recording (plink!). Also the garage-punk-dance-hit "New Drug Queens." The closest to Black Mountain's sound, dronepic "Slaves" seems to point the way to prog-suite "Tyrants." (Epics here are half the length of Sinoia's.)

"Plastic Man, You're the Devil" kicks off a concluding trilogy of righteous God v. Devil tunes. It's a bit Dylanesque, with a corroded slide hook. "Lord, Let Us Shine" is the aforementioned beatbox drone-gospel with laid-back, revival-tent-testifyin' rap. Finally, "How We Can Get Free" (live excerpt) is seven-and-a-half of minimalist guitar pluck and reverb-laced lines like "Jesus in a holy rage, won't you tell us... aw, how we can get free?"

The Enchanter Persuaded
Official -
Myspace - Sinoia / Pink
Purchase - Caves / Mountaintops (both Jagjaguwar)
iTunes - S.C. / P.M.

Genres - Hippy-Synth / Indie-Pop
Review - AllMusic Guide / Dusted

Axis of Evol

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