Album Review: Mt. Doubt – My Past Is A Quiet Beast

Posted by Bobby Motherwell

Mt Doubt - My Past Is A Quiet BeastIn Mt. Doubt’s 2015 album My Past Is A Quiet Beast, Leo Bargery has struck a somnambulistic balance between dark brooding landscapes and triumphalist anthems, concocted and melded into an aggregate of songs which endure and engage throughout.  A full on sensory experience from start to finish, this album delivers more than its fair share of gems.

Beast opens with a Laurie Anderson infused lyrical incantation resolving to a meditative chant of the album title “my past is a quiet beast” against a backdrop of stark keys and a guitar riff reminiscent of the LC days of Durutti Column. A haunting introduction into the dreamscape which follows.

Feathers takes a more conventional turn in both rhythmic style and construct, only breaking intermittently to punctuate vocals where a lazier writer would have gone full anthem.  An extremely cleverly written and constrained anthem of sorts, with rolling drum beats and classic chord structures.

Slump has a narrative and feel straight from any Twilight Sad/Meursault fused ballad.  Stark and beautiful in its lo-fi barren introduction, the persistent drum metronome allows the melody to open through a wonderfully staccato supported vocal arrangement

Bend Sinister – whether a nod to the Nabakov book or The Fall’s epic album, we are non the wiser, however this track opens as very promising pop single vibe, only to take us to another destination within this sleepwalk, before returning again to the driving pop motif.  A collection of contrasting tempo and patterns serves to maintain a wonderfully uncertain direction within this song, some would say just like a “postcard from Guernica baby.”

Leap is easily the strongest track on the album, against some stiff competition.  I would hold this high above the rest and never tire of listening to it, it really is that good.  It opens as building bubbling collection of sounds waiting to explode into a new choreography of sound.  A dynamic and pulsing drum rhythm supports the opening vocal, and we are already moving at pace on this journey “so let me be weightless…”  This is relentless in its capacity to enthrall, the sometimes crammed lyric serving only to jar in all the right and proper places.  A wonderfully understated guitar solo riff leads to the outro and before we know it we are complete all too soon.

And so to Dancing Phantoms and continuing the drum hook, we return to the melodies familiar from Slump.  A layered vocal and classical rock structure underpins a beautiful track with yet again the guitar motifs picking over lyrics before moving to cascading backing vocals.  A layered piece of wonder right here.

I Break Spirit is a dark and brooding narrative against a stormy reverb laden cacophony of bleakness.  Parallels will be drawn with those named previously however there is also a wonderful lightness and underlying hope within the structure of this song, imagine Bon Iver and Nick Cave both covering a Twilight Sad song, you’re there!  Another absolute gem.

Telmessos continues on the theme, offering a more contemporary structure than before without reaching the artistic depths we have become used to.  A decent track nonetheless, and on its own a worthy listen, it suffers here from the beauty of its counterparts.

And as the chords of Soft Wrists opens and we are reminded of many an Embrace ballad, we know we are being introduced to a love song of sorts, a beautiful song which rolls and tumbles with emotion on the background of crashing cymbals and discordant chord structures.

The album ends in Asunder, a truly mesmerizingly crafted song, which on reflection perfectly blends everything which has gone before.  Everything is here, the album in miniature if you will.  A true tour de force of a track.  If you only have time to listen to one track and want to get a feel for the whole album, this is it.  In doing so, you will be convinced that the whole alum is worth listening to.  You wouldn’t be wrong.

As first albums go, Mt. Doubt have provided us with a brooding and enthralling piece of work.  Take time to listen to the complete article in all its compelling intricacies.  And when you have done so, like me you will look forward to the next.

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Posted by: Toni Spencer, 20th February 2016