A Mountain of One
A Mountain of One
Although Mo and Zeb’s musical paths first crossed a decade ago, it wasn’t until 2006 that A Mountain Of One came into existence. “It’s about inner belief and inner strength,” explains Mo, “It’s about empowering you by listening to the music. It sounds a bit wanky, but that’s what it is really”. And really it’s a union made in musical heaven, Zeb’s astounding musical talents (a multi-instrumentalist, he’s toured the world with the likes of Oasis, Tricky and The Pretenders) coalescing perfectly with Mo’s inventive widescreen vision.
“I think we were both in a similar headspace,” says Zeb. “We were desperate to get out of the situation we were in and determined to prove to ourselves that we could be the men we wanted to be.” Harnessing this frustration and this desire to create rich emotional music dripping with experience, the duo immediately set to work on what would be a remarkable opening salvo of EPs. Their first release, EP1, commonly referred to as Silver (which now goes for silly money on those internet auction sites) had the music press doing cartwheels in an effort to rain down critical hosannas on the band, while Rough Trade captured their exquisite timelessness when they said: ‘A drugged out Fleetwood Mac… Pink Floyd’s Meddle… the full 70s Santana… Arthur Russell… Laurel Canyon… Air’s Moon Safari… JJ Cale… Talk Talk… Madchester… the first Beta Band EP… The Verve’s A Northern Soul.’ Their second EP, EP2 or Gold, released in 2007 was no less lauded (and will also set you back a pretty penny). By now the duo had consolidated their live set, thus dispelling any lingering doubts that A Mountain Of One were nothing less than an all encompassing 21st Century psychedelic rock band.
Due to the scarcity of these first two EPs they were bought together under the banner Collected Works, which despite not being an album proper shot to number 12 in Rough Trade’s Albums of the Year. That said, Institute Of Joy will still knock you sideways when you hear it blasting from your speakers for the first time. A bona fide modern day classic its vast scope, its unapologetic vaulting ambition and the rich grandeur is undeniable. Taking in hypnotic rock, pastoral folk, Krautrock, gospel and life-affirming soul this is a record aiming straight for the heart.
“We had to be as ambitious as possible,” admits Mo. “It wouldn’t have made sense otherwise – there wouldn’t have been any point being broke for four years and being forced to rob pasties from supermarkets.” “It is,” says Zeb with stunning simplicity, “nothing less than a crusade.” And like an episode of The Simpsons, it’s multi-dimensional, working on numerous layers. On one level it demands your attention, its musical tapestry urging you to engage. And yet, it’s beautiful musicality, its otherworldly melodies are the perfect sonic tonic for educated escapism.
“Zeb’s wife goes running to it,” says Mo. “And my mum listens to it in the car. And she likes Will Young. Let’s put it like this, it’s not an album just for musos.” Indeed it’s not.
Mixed by Danton Supple (Coldplay) and Guy Massey (Spiritualized) and produced by Mo and Zeb this is music that is as accessible as it is adventurous. Years of craftsmanship, of learning and of experience have gone into making it, which makes sense when you cock your ear to its hard won optimism and celebratory collectivism. For those that think it’s inevitable that we’re all going to hell in a hand cart, listen up, A Mountain Of One have delivered the perfect antidote. An Institute Of Joy indeed.
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