South Mountain Lights recent EP Glamdring is one take, no overdubs, improvised and solely instrumental. It combines various genres such as post-rock, ambient, shoegaze and even blues to make for an enjoyable listening experience. The band has been together for about ten years and released a fair amount of material and Glamdring seems to be a solid introduction to the band that will most likely get you interested in exploring some of their previous material. The fact that this material is improvised and in one take is what is most impressive to me (although I did wonder how their songs might sound if they had a less arbitrary approach to the music.)
The first track on Glamdring is called “Untitled #2 and is the shortest of the three songs (just under three minutes) and is a subdued blues jam. Everyone in the band is talented but the guitar is the shining star on this song. The song is basically one big guitar solo and is impressive although not that emotional tantalizing.
My anticipation was with the title track “Glamdring” as I wondered what would develop in the fifteen-minute time frame. The track follows a typical post-rock structure that relies on dynamically infused tempos that go from soft to loud. In the beginning of the track the guitar produces no more than a fog of ambience as the bass trickles its way into the spectrum of sound. By the five- minute mark the bass line is more prominent; the guitar is producing a slow but loud lead and the drums are producing some effective tom work. The song progressively gets more intense but also displays some creative moments in between that a lesser band may not have hit upon.
The last track surprisingly called Untitled #1 is decent instrumental track and feels most like an improvisational jam. It was a good listen but just never went anywhere that felt more than an improvisation.
I respect the aesthetic that South Mountain Lights has taken to in their album and I am sure it makes their live shows pretty intense. While this EP isn’t perfect it has moments of brilliance that sound big. The fact that these guys are a three-piece band is a testament to their talent.
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