By Brian Tucker
Emotional, moody, and sonically elegant, Mood Mechanics new album Once a Mountain is like a tattered, warm blanket. Musically it’s comforting, but not without some damage on display. The seven songs work less like a collection of material than an mini-epic. As engaging indie rock material it aims, and succeeds, to transcend the genre.
Once a Mountain is not ordinary. Its music brings together indie rock, gentle R&B, and jazz guitar melodies that can evoke moments of bands of the past – The Moody Blues, Pink Floyd, Robert Plant’s solo material, all while still forging ahead with its own sound.
Beginning as a long distance project between childhood friends Logan Tabor and Brian Obernesser, they sent musical ideas back and forth via email until both were living in the same area code. For recording and performances the duo adds musician friends to flesh out songs.
Once a Mountain is melodic and nuanced material – the title track is an example of the band’s careful but elegant marriage of experimental indie rock along with gutsy, sometimes falsetto drenched R&B singing. An album highlight, it’s rich in cool ambiance, an example of them taking subtle pop aesthetics and crafting a seductive song.
“Goners” is another great track, one laced with interesting textures like evocative, rippling slide guitar and Tabor’s soft vocals. It has smoky atmosphere and open spaces, essentially allowing the song to breathe. Bombast and heavy-handed playing is one thing when it comes to sonic power, but gaining power from restraint is wholly different, almost unsettling. “Goners” is that type of song, one delivering something pretty and tense without ever exploding.
“Oceans Roam” and “Manifesto” are clear-cut rock tunes, the former burning with melody and driving energy while the former is a murky early 90s college rock number. “Manifesto” sounds like an anthem, even with its mid-speed delivery. Its slow burn is its beauty, and whose music feels like heartache. The guitar work and the song’s melody feel like the turmoil of emotions gone awry.
As a band name Mood Mechanics is appropriate. Tabor and Obernesser have an ear for crafting songs with stinging emotional characteristics. Their music is colored with many and unearths great material whether it results in being haunting or uplifting. Casual as the music may sound on the surface its layering ultimately creates a deceptive simplicity.
Check it out at Bandcamp or pick up a copy at Gravity Records.