After seeing Mountain Caller live a couple of times and been both engaged and somewhat puzzled by their sound and approach, I was very excited to hear of the release of their debut LP Chronicle I: The Truthseeker. As expected the record is ambitious and expansive, borrowing from a number of genres and showing a remarkable level of confidence for such a new band.
Almost entirely instrumental The Truthseeker is the storytale of our protagonist, described by the band as an everywoman upon which the listener can project their own characterisation. As the album features only one brief appearance of vocals, the storytelling develops through the wayfinding approach the band take to their journey across genre and tone.
On The Truthseeker Mountain Caller largely find themselves at a junction of post-rock and looser, more groove orientated, psychedelic rock. Their approach has clear landmarks in the recent works of Elder, but also nodding to the narrative that bands such as Russian Circles are able to weave without lyrics.
If I’d had any complaint about the band from their live shows at the turn of the year, it would have been that it was hard to pin their sound down and that live, this sometimes represented as incoherence. This is certainly not a charge that holds up on this LP, and taking their cue from the prog scene, Mountain Caller are assured genre travellers, happy to dip in to sections of more frantic hardcore and metal sections, math rock and krautrock inspired intros.
taking their cue from the prog scene, Mountain Caller are assured genre travellers…
Production was helmed by Joe Clayton at No Name Studios in Manchester and the overall result is an absolute triumph. A clear and clean guitar sound that supports the progressive approach of the songwriting, is matched by a rhythm section that pulls no punches when required. Clayton’s track record recently is outstanding, having produced his band Pijn’s fabulous album Loss, Wren’s EP Thrall and many other standout UK underground releases in the past couple of years. It’s a sign of his skills that such a disparate collection of bands have been served so well at No Name.
The artwork is in keeping with the epic and fantastical story of the protagonist. She stands alone but unbowed, staff in hand ready to continue her journey through the valleys of a suitably post-apocalyptic world. She is watched by a skeletal and menacing beast providing the sort of nuance we find throughout the album, ostensibly optimistic and forward looking, but with ominous darkness never far away from our heroine. Pre-orders from New Heavy Sounds were rewarded with a luxurious purple vinyl.
This is a very impressive debut recording from Mountain Caller. It showcases a breadth of ambition that belies the band’s relative lack of experience and some excellent playing. Check it out!
Scribed by: Ian M