Black Mountain


Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Black Mountain – “Set Us Free” from Black Mountain (2005 Jagjaguwar)


Yesterday, when writing about Roberta Flack, I advised dim lights, red wine, and the hi-fi. Not terrible advice, but “Set Us Free” by Black Mountain requires something else: a vintage car stereo, some old-ass weed leftover from your dad’s stash (circa 1979), and the Ace Hotel Palm Springs.

Or something.

Black Mountain definitely has some stoner/psyechedelic/mood-altering tendencies to their music. When I first got this album, I think I was hoping for something in more of a stoner metal vein. I’m not entirely sure why or how that’s the case, and honestly, I can’t even remember how I stumbled upon these guys, but, having gotten over the desire for something heavier, I’m super into this.

Basically, I think it goes like this: Neil Young —> Black Crowes —> Black Mountain —> Red Fang —> Electric Wizard/Sleep/etc. Black Mountain is pretty solidly in the middle of the cannabis heaviness spectrum.

Lyrically, “Set Us Free” could be Sabbath’s “War Pigs,” talking as it does about war machines and killer planes on the horizon. But the music suggests something in more of a seventies hard rock vein. The drummer isn’t even using proper drumsticks, I don’t think, but rather the more subdued multi-rod deals. There are vocal effects that bring Fleetwood Mac to mind, if not, I’m sorry to say, the Beegees. The music builds and builds as it goes on, ending in an emotional crescendo as the desert skies and the peyote spirit animals swirl around you.

Interesting facts about Black Mountain gleaned from Wikipedia and elsewhere: 1) Around the same time that this record was released, the band spent three weeks opening for Coldplay. Sit with that for a minute. 2) Many members of the band have worked for years and years with the homeless and otherwise needy in their hometown of Vancouver. That’s a pretty wonderful thing. 3) Perhaps not surprisingly, the band has an E.P. entitled Druganaut.

Also wonderful is this video. I remember seeing a friend post it a few years back on the social media. Then, as now, I found it captivating, awash as it is in Super 8 glory.