One of the many things I love about When Mountains Speak is the eclecticism and creative fluidity. Some music is a full-band effort, and others are mainly Steven wandering off in solo flights of fancy. Some pieces are tight, groovesome and beat-driven, and some are trippy, experimental and fragmented. But whatever gets made under this broad musical title is always challenging and unique.

Hint of Normality sees Steven in solo exploration mode; in fact, he plays everything except the drum loops here. The beats weave in and out, the guitars drift and float past, more like a passing weather phenomenon than a focal point, and some intricate and intriguing bass-noodling dominates the centre ground. (Played incidentally on a Squire Precision re-issue, the same make on which I launched my less-than-spectacular musical career.)

As is often the case, the music seems to be searching for something, a spiralling and shifting quest to define itself but never submitting to anything as unimaginative as verse and choruses, structure or solidity. Instead, it is happy to go where the sonic winds take it, content to develop its ideas organically and see where it ends up.

These recordings must be seen as snapshots in time. Even with plenty of rehearsal, any subsequent song rendition could only be a variation on the same theme, familiar yet different, exploring similar territory but often finding new ideas to include and dwell on. An extraordinary, one-off moment, never to be repeated, at least not quite in the same way or with the same results.

And, it is worth saying something about the video, a collaboration with Sandipan, owner of India’s Mad Yeti Studios and a heady blend of images and ideas that cross the line between science and spirituality, the natural world and the otherworldly, deep space meets inner consciousness.

As always, a fascinating track and music is about opening minds rather than the doors to record label offices that make you both feel and think music for all the right reasons. Intoxicating stuff.

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Musician, scribbler, historian, gnostic, seeker of enlightenment, asker of the wrong questions, delver into the lost archives, fugitive from the law of averages, blogger, quantum spanner, left footed traveller, music journalist, zenarchist, freelance writer, reviewer and gemini. People have woken up to worse.

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