Two years on from their debut visit to Australia, Black Mountain return in support of Wilderness Heart, their third album. For many, they’re a band to be enjoyed live much more than compressed on record. Their proggy neo-psych has to be experienced firsthand in aural assault in order to fully understand and appreciate it. ‘Wilderness Heart’, Angels’ and ‘Tyrants’ all wash over you in a completely unmediated experience in which the crowd is almost directly plugged in to the effects pedals and soak up the woozy wash of guitar noise.
The extended live versions bring a much heavier edge to most of the group’s set (which, in this instance, consisted of songs from all three albums). There is also a greater contrast between the spacey, psychy moments and the pastoral elements of the band’s songs when played live. ‘The Space Of Your Mind’ falls in to the latter camp, while the bluesy Zepp-esque stomp of ‘Stormy High’ could be an invocation to the gods of blues and hard rock.
By far the highlight of the show were the couple of encore songs the band performed with Miles Brown of support band The Night Terrors on theremin duties. An instrument that some would probably consider a gimmick, the pulsating woops and bleeps it created seemed to fit perfectly in the couple of songs it was used.
There’s no getting round the fact that Black Mountain are a cult band. A very popular cult band but a cult band nonetheless. In a world of loud noises and sensory overload, music like theirs is certainly an acquired taste but it’s wholly rewarding if you just stand there, listen and let the sound take you over.
– Michael Hartt