A Mountain Of One’s Collected Works is not a greatest hits compilation but rather the debut album release, made up of two EPs and one new track, from a London-based collective consisting of three core members. It is unlike any other album you’ll hear this year.
If your notion of prog begins and ends with Yes, prepare for a treat. The missing link between Ozric Tentacles‘ Erpland and Pink Floyd‘s Meddle sat under a palm tree on a Balearic beach, AMO1′s tropical progtronica stands out as music that references the familiar – Fleetwood Mac, most notably – while striking out on its own unique and utterly splendid path, guided by producers Mo Morris and Leo Elstob.
Opener Ride is one of several tracks that clock in at an unhurried six minutes plus, with arabesque acoustic guitar rounds in places reminiscent of the fretwork of Ozrics’ resident genius Ed Wynne. A compulsive, repetitive bassline, spacial melodies and characteristic big electric guitar sounds set the scene for what follows.
Vocalist Zeb Jameson, on Freefall, has a voice as emotive as Chris Isaak singing Wicked Game. On Our Eyes his piano playing is anthemic, powerful riff-making stuff.
Martina Topley-Bird pops up on Can’t Be Serious, shimmering away between arpeggiated synth and squalling, Santana-like guitar. Innocent Line, with bird tweets and synth drones under Jameson’s layered vocals, begs for a Paul van Dyk remix. Innocent Reprise, immediately following, continues the same musical theme for another six minutes with a slightly different beat and no vocals for what essentially is a remix. What the hell. If James Murphy can get away with putting two versions of Yeah on his first LCD Soundsystem album, who’s to deny AMO1.
People Without Love goes down a tribal beats meets raga-rap route, with a spoken London-accented, pseudo-hippie message of what love can do and, really, it’s a bit sappy. Indeed there’s a tailing-off towards the end, as whatever substances the threesome are on work their magic and bliss takes over. Arc Of Abraham, with its folksy vibes coupled with swooping echoes and peculiar piano chords, outstays its welcome even if, by its end, it finally gets going. But this is a mere quibblette.
Like Midlake‘s stunning The Trials Of Van Occupanther last year (another record strikingly influenced by Fleetwood Mac) and the recent work of Espers, AMO1 is certain to be a slow-burning word of mouth kind of band rather than a flash-in-the-pan. And anyone preferring the other sounds of the ’70s – punk, disco – would do well to steer clear.
But for those narrow-minded enough to believe that anything prog must be bad because some magazine says so, A Mountain Of One are the living, breathing testament that it can be spectacularly special. Live dates are promised soon, with a new artist album to follow next year. Collected Works, far from being the end, is merely a very special beginning.