It is safe to say that When Mountains Speak is a band happy to turn their hands to all musical forms. Conventional albums, singles and eps from them have never been in short supply. Still, you can add to that collaboration and solo releases and, most recently, a reimagining of a classic of the German silent film era rendered into musical tones and sonic textures.
The latest release, The Hunt, sees the band back in the familiar territory of a five-track mini-album offering. However, the word mini may be a misnomer, with the total running time over 40 minutes.
Musically too, we are in the band’s comfort zone, a collection of free-form musical explorations, fluidly structured, wonderfully meandering – seeming to wander where the musical ebb and flow takes them – and beholden to few musical conventions except pushing the musical envelope and searching for honest and unique expressions of ideas and emotions.
As always, the music seems less about direct communication and more about inspiration. Not just the inspirations which seem to direct and dictate the musical flow at the point of it being made but the inspiration that the music hopes to conjure within the listener. It is also as if the music challenges the recipient to unravel and understand the music and broadens their mind along the way.
Much music, especially that beholden to lyrical communication, tells you what it is all about. No questions, just a common understanding. When Mountains Speak instead presents a coiled and complex sound and suggests you try to unpick it and, in doing so, begin to think about music differently, reinterpret its purpose, to understand the connection between emotion and melody, expression and sound.
Music itself is a language, and like any language, it takes time to understand it. And if the language of most songs today is equivalent to the faltering first steps taken in school to grasp this new skill, When Mountains Speak is just the more advanced and ornate form. It may be a challenge to see where such music can take you and its ultimate aim, but when it all falls into place, you will see how important and mind-expanding it is.