This one is a little late to the party, having been released mid-January, but every so often there comes something you stumble upon that stops you in your tracks, and can’t help but hold your attention.
Mountains of the Moon are a Swedish alternative folk rock act, hailing from Stockholm, who have recently released their debut 2018 EP, Tiger’s Tongue. Stylistically akin to the likes of English singer-songwriter, Ben Howard, Tiger’s Tongue hardly revolutionizes the moody, alternative rock sound the band so wholeheartedly encapsulates throughout the short, four track EP, but what becomes immediately apparent is that there is certainly something within the depths of Tiger’s Tongue, that can’t help but be wonderfully rewarding. Indeed, there’s something ethereally engaging that surrounds the group’s mellow, acoustic instrumentation, and vocalist Adam Huttunen’s poignant delivery of the group’s reflective, intimate lyrical content. With the well-received previous single releases, ‘How I Leapt From The Stratosphere’, and ‘Caterpillar’, and release of their debut EP, Mountains of the Moon have clearly only just begun.
Drenched in soothing, sombre atmospherics and glittering subdued undertones, opening track, ‘Tiger’s Tongue’, starts things slowly. Building gradually from a lightest touch and gentle melody, the opener takes its time in submerging its listener in the solemn ambiance, Adam Huttunen’s crooning vocals breaking through the candescence softly, before the track bleeds into the following ‘Overgrown.’ Conceptually, ‘Overgrown’ essentially acts as the second half to the introductory ‘Tigers Tongue’, calm guitar-work and the occasional natural harmonic that skips out from underneath a mournful surface, while Huttunen delivers a hauntingly morose performance, lyrically reflecting on the age-old emotional discontent of long-lost connection; “you used to stand with me, love. Indelibly, I thought – you said whatever may be. So where’d you go?” Instrumentally the track continues the build initiated by ‘Tigers Tongue’, but the introduction of pounding percussion and subtle underlying bass-work drives the track’s heartbeat forward, eventually breaching the surface in Huttunen’s desperate exasperation of “what’s to live for now? What’s to die for now? Oh, I don’t know – no I don’t know.”
Shifting the EP’s into slightly newer territory, ‘Pretty Near the Bottom’s faster-paced tempo leans on an unrelenting, continuous percussive backbone, and moody bass guitar-work that drives the track forward. Thematically similar to Ben Howard’s ‘Oats In The Water’, occasional clean guitar trickles in as the underlying tension gradually takes further hold, Huttunen’s frustrated deliverance of “ecstatic expression, fading out – manic depression take me now” finds itself soaked in reverb and layered echo as the track continues, before ‘Pretty Near the Bottom’ retreats slowly into its initial percussive and bass elements, and comes to a final close. Concluding track, ‘Talking to Myself’, takes things into a slightly more stripped down, acoustic direction; far less reliant on the brilliantly layered instrumentation much of the EP utilizes, ‘Talking to Myself’ instead stands as really the only track on Tiger’s Tongue to truly focus on Adam Huttunen’s performance, and allow the vocals to take center stage. Blending in seamlessly with all other elements, Huttunen’s vocals are more often utilized to complement the likes of ‘Overgrown’s thrilling instrumentation, instead of taking the attention away from it, while ‘Talking to Myself’s simple acoustic guitar and delicate piano backing allow the vocals free reign, and it comes together to superb effect.
It’s strange how sometimes the vaguest connection can cause wonderful discovery; this humble reviewer stumbled upon Mountains of the Moon while searching for something that couldn’t have been further removed from the Swedish alternative folk rock act, but it’s in moments such as this that sometimes the best can be found. As an introductory body of work for Mountains of the Moon, Tiger’s Tongue is a brilliant, beautiful opening chapter, for a band that clearly has a lot to offer. Amidst vibrant instrumentation, and Huttenen’s charismatic vocal performance throughout the EP, the group’s still growing following certainly follow for a reason, the reality of it being that Mountains of the Moon deserve every bit of recognition they can find. And much, much more.