1000 Albums Project

ALBUM 374

In The Future, by Black Mountain
Suggested by Michael Sylvian

I’m a particular eater.

I’m not a picky eater. I’ll give anything a go, as long as it is, in some cultures, considered an edible comestible. No, my particular eating habits are much more, shall we say, structured.

Basically, I like to eat things in order.

Let’s take a Sunday Roast. First I’ll eat all the vegetables, singularly. Carrots, say, followed by peas, followed by sweetcorn, followed by parsnips. I’ll then head to Carb Town, take down the roasties, then the mash (if it’s available), then the Yorkshire Puddings. Finally, I’ll tackle the meats, again in order if they appear in multiples on a carvery platter.

I’m not totally gone in this regard. I won’t deconstruct a sandwich, or separate the ingredients in a chilli. But if it’s a meal that’s a list of component parts, say Fish, Chips and Peas, I’ll nom the peas, then I’ll nom the chips, then I’ll now the fish. And if I find an errant pea or two under the fish when it’s time to nom that, I’ll feel inexplicably sad.

I think I just appreciate the singular flavour and texture more than, say, a jumbled Frankenforkful of contrasting parts. And when I talk of food afterwards, my descriptions will centre on the individual elements rather than the dish as a whole. It’ll be “that fish was really well cooked,” or “you could really taste the tomatoes,” and so on.

I approach music the same way, to an extent. I appreciate the separate arts, revel in the artistry while observing the cogs in the machine. That’s why you’ll ready my thoughts on vocalists, or drummers, or guitarists. They’re the peas, the parsnips, the lamb shank or pork loin. The song is the roast, the band are plated components.

It’s why, I think, I shrugged to Black Mountain.

It has all the requisite parts. There are guitars, drums, vocals, the works, but they are mashed and crashed together, defiantly operating to create a more formless, borderless sound, an edible wall of noise that’s slathered with a rich reverb gravy. It’s mixed to bring it together in a thick smoothie that’ll slide down nicely but mask its individual ingredients. I enjoy pretty and intricate plates of colourful, Instagrammable food, and this is, well… soup.

And there’s nothing wrong with soup! Soup is delicious, soup is fortifying, soup can warm the heart and soul. It’s just not my go-to meal, and this is not my go-to sound. It’s a choice, a critical decision by the band, and I can’t fault them for it. I just think that if you’re looking for a blended, organic one-piece sound, and hope to find it in post with effects and mixes and other seasonings, a subset of listeners will dismiss it as chowder.

Maybe I’m being harsh. Maybe this is nothing more than a temporary distaste for overly-muddied guitar rock and treated vocals, as I’ve looked kindlier on that in the past. The opener, my standout Stormy High, for example, is a decent enough Led Zep soundalike with some nice synth work and galloping flabby drums… but there I go, deconstructing the sandwich, looking for the man behind the curtain.

In the Future gets 5/10. Some may find it tasty, but I’m not that hungry.

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