"Some artists try to “make it big” and chase trends with their songwriting, not really aiming for substance, but simply to try to cash in on the latest sonic fashion. On the other hand, there are performers who are truly committed to making quality music, using songwriting and production as a unique way to express themselves and connect with a like-minded audience. The Mountain King definitely belongs to the latter category! This exciting and forward-thinking artist set out to refrain from being stuck in any category, creating music that blurs the lines between genres and styles. The result is a refreshingly unpredictable approach to songwriting, which leaves listeners guessing, maintaining the excitement of the listening experience intact.
Often described as a singer/songwriter electro stoner doom artist, the project escapes traditional definitions, due to the open format of its creative output. Many people will recognize the warm and unmistakable tone of cool analog synths, but traditional instruments such as electric guitar and bass are also an important component of this mix. The Mountain Kings often performs every instrument on his own, but friends and collaborators join the process from time to time, contributing to the songs with something unique. One of the project’s most recent releases is an ambitious full-length album titled “Elevator Songs.” This particular project features 12 songs that stretch the sound of the project towards different musical directions.
The album’s intro, “Descend!” is a dark and brooding piano ballad, echoing the sound of artists as diverse as Nick Cave or Nine Inch Nails, with haunting lyrics and gripping melodies, built on a backdrop of hypnotic electronic beats and samples. The second track is a song titled “Wanderlost.” The tune begins with a mellow synth soundscape and a minimal percussive skeleton, and it later evolves into a moody electro/rock track with a stunning production value and a very atmospheric feel. The third song on the release, “Living On A Shelf,” is heavily based on synth effects. The sound of the melodies is gritty and direct, while the beats are punchy and full of crunch. This track echoes the heyday of synth rock while remaining modern and forward-thinking. “The Serial Thinker” and “Play that HAARP, Sam” have intriguing titles and song arrangements that almost make me think of Pink Floyd (Dark Side of The Moon era). Although this music is quite different from the work of David Gilmour, Roger Waters & Co, I can certainly feel a connection in terms of experimental research and compositional philosophy. The Mountain King is all about destroying barriers and approach songwriting in a creative and direct way. “The Haunted Track Throwback” is one of the most intriguing and unique compositions on this record. Its cinematic, psychedelic atmosphere is achieved through the clever use of synth drones, vocal samples, and layered beats. The next track is “Of Ancient Astronauts and Future Cavemen,” and it is yet another showcase of the artist’s diverse creative background. This song is in full-on NIN territory, with huge, dark melodies and massive industrial percussion with a modern feel. “Arctic Requiem” is one of the album’s most distinctive songs, breaking the flow of synths with its minimalistic guitar intro. This is a great example of fine electro/acoustic music, where the crossover between genres is truly outstanding. The next tune, Kånsum 420/7, is another exciting track, which combines electric bass notes with cool melodies that almost remind me of toy instruments. The song is a perfect forerunner to one of the best tracks on the album (in my opinion), “Transylvanian Sunrise.” Clocking in at slightly over the 5-minute mark, this song exemplifies the incredibly diverse approach to songwriting of this artist. The track has a great arrangement, where each detail brings something special to the table. The 11th track on this release, “Home Run” is a very contemplative composition based on the stunning melodies of the acoustic guitar, with contributions from other instruments, such as drums, bass, and synths.
Schism Jack is actually one of the shortest songs on the album (actually, it is the shortest song on the album!) and it is yet another great example of quality songwriting, with introspective lyrics and great acoustic arpeggios. Last but not least, the final song on the album is aptly titled “Exit”. This curtain closer has one of the most exciting and stunning atmospheres on the album, with great synth drones and a very cinematic vibe. The bubbly samples in the background make you feel as if you were sinking into the deep blue ocean, going deeper and deeper as the sound evolves. The track later explodes with a deep and multi-layered electronic arrangement, making for a perfect finale for the release!
All in all, elevator songs will certainly be your new go-to music, if you are in the mood for something unpredictable and refreshingly experimental. On the other hand, this album is not just experimental for the sake of doing something out of the ordinary. There is actually a lot of quality songwriting on this release, with memorable melodies, great hooks and genuine lyrics that obviously come from a spontaneous and personal place."
-the bandcamp diaries