The Witch and the Robot - Fear of Mountains

It’s odd and threatening stuff, throwing up mental images of lost seventies weirdos opening the door to out-of-the-way cottages, being ripped off for ice cream in Clitheroe, that kind of thing.

 

 


 

There’s always something unsettling about this band’s music, they’re an odd mix of pastoral and glam and punk. As the LP name - and title track suggest, the band and their music are informed firstly by the landscape they hail from. Glowering and plodding along with only a dolorous synth motif for company, Fear of Mountains does recall the wet, sheep-riddled landscapes of the North of England: Shap Fell, Pennines, Cheviots, Helvellin….  all grey skies and uninviting nooks and crannies. It’s odd and threatening stuff, throwing up mental images of lost seventies weirdos opening the door to out-of-the-way cottages, being ripped off for ice cream in Clitheroe, that kind of thing.


The band’s music does have a lonesome feel too: a lot of their soliloquies such as The Last Blood Cell, The Coffin Path and Houdini are in the manner of 1969-71 era Bowie -albeit with our David scraping the cow shit from his trainers. There are elements of Gong or Amon Düül 2 with Josefina and mid-seventies Pretty Things and Hawkwind too with The Beagle and Sea Change; a kind of underpowered (or silage-powered) spacerock.  It’s very enjoyable stuff, mind.


Even when old songs are given a new suit they don’t seem to be able to wear it without bursting the odd button: Back! Back! Baby! is reworked with its hooks magnified and exploited for maximum pop charts effect:  the melody is pushed up so you can almost smell the armpit sweat, but even with all the effort and the additional growls and synth blurps it’s still a grumbling and unsettling presence. And it’s about as poppy as the band get. And The Haunter Or The Haunted?, the most intriguing track on the LP (and its most symphonic) is possibly the moment when all the strands: pastoral, underpowered electronic psychedelia, goth horror and farm punk come together to make something pretty special.


Bloody good, and recommended if you like out of the way noises.