Ahead of a month of downtime, and given their usual work rate, who can blame them, When Mountains Speak has released a five-track ep, and it seems to encapsulate everything that defines and drives the band.
Take the title, Visions of Tibet, a very apt one given the amount of oriental vibe, raga beats and esoteric mysticism woven through their music. And then there is the nature of the songs themselves. Firstly, the ep contains a combination of solo, duo and full band tracks, again a reminder that, like the music, the boundaries of the band itself are also fluid, with music being made without the need for strict demarkations. Whatever the band produces and whoever writes and performs it is all done under the When Mountains Speak.
And only when you have mused on those inherent qualities of the band can you turn to the music found here. Again, it is typical of the band and their ability to match free-form musical adventurousness with just enough structure from the rhythm section to keep things from getting too loose and drifting off or becoming too wild and out of control.
The Colourful Flow kicks things off, a liquid sonic array that ebbs and flows through atmosphere and expectation, sometimes rising towards a crescendo that never quite comes, other times fading back but never entirely disappearing. Fluid dynamics of the musical kind. (Now there’s an idea for a song title if ever you need one, chaps.)
Cascading Cosmos, we have heard before, and its loose and relaxed meanderings are one of the defining parts of the When Mountains Speak sound, a platform that seems to underpin even their most groove-driven and organised songs. Havana Sidewalks is the perfect example of this, the bass lines forming recognisable patterns, the beats where you expect them to be and the guitar happy to wig out on its little trippy adventure.
Songs such as Spiral Clarity are a perfect representation of their eclectics, a blend of eastern beats and the sound of brass that falls somewhere between eastern classical traditions and western jazz solos, although always erring more to the former but never quite fitting exactly. And that brings us to the final, titular track, which sees the band at their most free-form and eclectic, changeable and challenging, a kaleidoscope of shifting ideas and sounds, moving through ever-changing patterns as the musical colours shift and shimmer. And at over 25 minutes, there is plenty of room to fit in many ideas and really explore the form. And they do. It is their loosest and most fractious of songs but still massively representative of the band.
It’s a great set of songs to leave us with whilst you recharge your batteries. Rest assured, like many others, I will be patiently waiting here for when you are back in work mode.