The one-man band, When Mountains Speak, returns once again this year with an abstract-concept album “Time Left Ajar” that it’ll surely keep you on your toes. This album fully embraces the identity of Steven Clarkson and doesn’t deviate from his usually surreal, abstract, and challenging combination of sounds. As always, the artist is highly moved by nature; he embraces its beauty, captures its essence, and depicts it within his music. The 11-track album has the typical elaborate style of the artist’s long tracks that tell a story with elaboration and a build-up of the storyline that lets you experience all sorts of emotions while still in the same place. The tracks range from 7 minutes and could go up to 14 minutes of instrumental music.
Clarkson’s music is well known for its improvisational style and focus on instrumentation. The artist has a wide range of skills and a repertoire of uncommon instruments, from acoustic and electric mandolin family instruments to all sorts of percussive instruments, along with the typical ones like the electric guitar, saxophone, and others. The multi-instrumentalist relies heavily on the percussive lines and instruments in his compositions, yet this album is slightly different as he experiments with his new Fender Strat. His percussive line is more complex and sophisticated as he includes 3 separate drum machines that play at the same time, he uses more avant-garde combinations while including other percussion instruments like a rain stick, Tibetan bells, African Talking Drum, and Tabla. His style this time deviates slightly towards the Free Jazz genre where he doesn’t stick to a specific form or a meter, he breaks free from all boundaries of how a typical song or composition should look like.
The album starts with “Time Left Ajar”, a track that gives meditative vibes with sound effects of water, occasional shakers, and lots of percussive instruments. Followed by “Rainbow Experiment”, which could fall under the psychedelic category with its distorted guitar sounds, shakers, and vibrational sounds. The third track is “Happy” which has a more consistent drum line and beat with a fixed meter. The song is less chill with a more uplifting vibe, with the distorted guitar sound taking over the main melody. Then comes the fourth track “Tithes of Compassion” which is a buildup of both themes introduced so far, a meditative chill vibe but with cheerfulness. The titles of the songs give a hint of what the music will sound like, like in “Maze” with its mysteriousness and “Circus” with its randomness and chaotic sounds. As always, When Mountains speak, you know it’ll be worth listening to.
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