Music

Black Mountain - "Mothers of the Sun" (Singles Going Steady)

The one-time Polaris nominee Black Mountain returns with an epic offering, merging Massive Attack with Sabbath-heavy riffs.

Pryor Stroud: "Mothers of the Sun" projects the brazen ambition of young lovers who, sneaking into an outskirts-of-town graveyard to stargaze, imagine themselves inscribed indelibly in the sky as a constellation for all to see. It's ponderous, self-obsessed, pointed unreservedly heavenward. The organ drifts over you as a low-hanging mist, the faux-choral hiccups nudge your fight-or-flight impulse, and the synthesized flute stalks forward like a flashlight searching the dark; it all sounds as ornate and imposing as the wrought iron gate that let them into this graveyard in the first place. The psych-blues guitar growl is this gate smashed open: an act of devil-may-care vandalism, no worry, no second thought of repercussion. Black Mountain's lyrics -- "Mothers of the Sun / Your children / How they run" -- remain cryptic enough to seem like an occult incantation. Perhaps this is the track's secret, but no one's awake to notice: this is a ceremony encircled by chalk and flame, arranged by a boy and girl who, dissatisfied with merely watching the stars, have determined to join them. [7/10]

Stephen Wyatt: The one-time Polaris nominee Black Mountain returns with an epic offering, merging Massive Attack with Sabbath-heavy riffs on "Mothers of the Sun". Amber Webber's voice carries the load until nearly four minutes into this almost nine-minute track when their most monstrous riff to date explodes over the soft electronic dynamics. Leads like a silent prayer before the choir erupts consumed by the holy ghost, Black Mountain's congregation have waited five years to scream "Amen". [10/10]

Chris Ingalls: The killer guitar riff near the beginning of the song sets me up for disappointment. This is a truly schizophrenic piece of music, alternating between dark, vocal-based indie goth that does little for me and an impressive Black Sabbath impersonation that features what appears to be a great lost Tony Iommi riff. If there’s an instrumental mix out there somewhere, sign me up. Meanwhile, the video’s going to give me nightmares. [6/10]

Morgan Y. Evans: Black Mountain's first album was perfect and their third had one of the best record covers ever. Always on point with music and style points. Appalachian Metal like Bask, USX or Irata aside, few bands pull off what Black Mountain always manage without seeming like the most pandering of hipsters. How many hard rock and metal bands could have a side project as legit as Lightning Dust in tone? This band straddle the headspace between deep forest indie rock fairyland hideaway music and Sabbath glory better than pretty much anyone. I hope more real metal heads start to embrace them, despite the mellower moments. In the current, less genre constrained scene that includes Marissa Nadler doing awesome, ethereal Danzig covers, hopefully Black Mountain's biggest peak has finally arrived. [8/10]

Emmanuel Elone: Just like the RJD2 song, this gave me a lot of false expectations. The looped, choppy vocal that gave way to a killer guitar riff was a great way to start the track, but all of that raw power and potential fades away for a quiet, disinterested verse that features no guitar whatsoever. Towards the latter end of the song, the riff reappeared, but there wasn't anything else. There wasn't even a simple guitar solo or screaming vocal at all to slap the listener into attention. This tune suffers from overindulgence mainly. If the song wasn't trying to be the length of "Stairway to Heaven" (a song that justified its length with its slow-burning melodic guitar solos and vocals), it would be good. The band wants to make a statement, but have nothing of note to say, leaving "Mothers of the Sun" hollow at its core. [4/10]

Chad Miller: Painfully hard to get through the full eight minutes. The main melody and guitar riff are hardly noteworthy on any level, and they're especially bad when it's stretched out to this extent. [2/10]

Black Mountain's new album IV releases April 1st via Jagjaguwar.

SCORE: 6.16

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
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Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

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"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
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Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

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The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

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If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

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Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

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