Black Mountain

    Black Mountain


    “Just shut up and swallow it; here’s some orange juice to help it down,” Marcus tells Paul as he hands him what looks like a tiny alien baby. Paul shoves it in his mouth, giving a mighty swallow. The taste of death overcomes him.


    He leans back in his leather chair, and the opening saxophone blare of “Modern Music” from Black Mountain’s self-titled debut causes him to yelp in fright. As the song counts through its psychedelic-pop beginning, the voices of the Vancouver-based collective respond to their leader, Stephen McBean.

    With its stoner grind, “Don’t Run Our Hearts Around” slams through Paul’s head. He feels like the skin of his face is being pulled back by the demons inside the chair’s headrest. The song quickly breaks to a quiet vocal harmony only to drive back into the balls-out rock. Chair demons return, and while the song switches gears to the slow-plodding vocals of Amber Webber, Paul leaps up, only to be forced back down by the gradual return of the song’s initial energetic rush.

    He finds partial safety in “Druganaut” and “No Satisfaction,” the former of which ends with more than a minute of enchanting guitar noise that leads him to carefully inspect all of the house’s electrical appliances to find the source of the curious din. During “No Satisfaction,” anonymous people walk around Paul without noticing him. He feels so relaxed he wants to smother their blank faces with kisses.

    Pursuing a particularly intriguing bearded gentleman, Paul’s legs give out and he lands crumpled in a pile on the floor. “Set Us Free” plods through his blood stream, its folk pulse beating in his chest. “Is it normal for my heart to produces the sounds of a guitar?” Paul thinks. As the song gains momentum, the fear overcomes him.

    He runs to the bathroom, trailed by the electronic rumble of “No Hits.” A splintered wooden door has replaced the mirror. He sticks his head through the tiny opening only to see the chair demons beckoning him toward them. “Maybe these demons aren’t exclusive to chairs,” Paul thinks, deciding that he better stop referring to them as chair demons for his own safety. The song builds with thundering drums and squealing noises. He walks through the door, and the gentle voices return. Oblivious to the lack of ground beneath him, Paul falls, landing back in his chair as the multi-movement “Heart of Snow” begins. He feels comforted by the return of Webber’s voice and lets his guard down, clearing his mind of the past how many minutes/days/weeks has it been?

    “Faulty Times” springs forth as a slowly building duet between Webber and McBean, who also heads the Pink Mountaintops. Paul kicks back, reclining his chair into a nearly flat position. Four minutes later, he feels his body begin to rise. Supported by the shredding guitars and eerie organ, he reaches his hand down and feels nothing. Paul, struck by fright, turns over to see the house below him and getting smaller by the second. Rising to its climax, the song builds for eight minutes, and Paul closes his eyes while his body continues to float higher. The sounds vanish. He parts his eyelids. A mass of people stand around him staring in concern. “I’m fine,” Paul assures them. “Never been better.”

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    Black Mountain’s homepage

    “Druganaut” mp3

    “Heart of Snow” mp3