London based trio Mt Wolf have recently released their debut album Aetherlight, the long awaited release from the band after a series of singles, EPs and remixes. The result is a captivating mix of aethereal soundscapes and pulsating electronica.
The album was previewed by the release of majestic lead single ‘Heavenbound’ and this sets the standard for much of what follows on the record. ‘Heavenbound’ reflects their folksy roots but bridges the gap to the electronica and classical influenced soundscapes of the album. Having lost the female vocals of former co-lead Kate Sproule the trio have evolved and now focus their work on the deep tones of lead Sebastian ‘Bassi’ Fox, with vocal tones reminiscent of The National yet carrying great range as demonstrated by his falsetto on ‘Soteria’. The album is wonderfully paced and balanced as the music builds and blossoms with real purpose and direction, pulled together by a strong lyrical narrative.
There is no obvious genre into which the band can be pigeonholed as Aetherlight moves with effortless ease through richly emotive textures and the band layers tension and emotion together in taut yet fluid compositions that feel meticulous in the level of detail explored. ‘Hamburg’ demonstrates the trio’s ability to build music in a way that is different to so many of their compatriots and in the process addresses the break up of relationships that feel so vital in the moment but on reflection become a fading memory. Glitchy drums hint at their electronic tendencies yet their stylistic range is broad with ‘Dorji’, for example, following a more classical pop track construction and strikes of Elbow at their best.
‘Bohemia’ acts as a centrepiece to the record, capturing all of the bands strengths into a record that is both skittering and soaring, without the need for lyrics yet still able to capture the spiritual experiences of Bassi in Bhutan, visiting communities and monasteries out there, which inspired many tracks on the album. Their music seems perfect for TV or film as it is cinematic in its scope and has an ability to capture feelings and emotion simply through its instrumentation. This is not meant to belittle or commoditise their work but simply reflects the impact it is capable of having. This is made possible by the strong musical skills of Steve McMinn and Al Mitchell, with drum lines able to chop and change at will through tempos and patterns, while the guitars tease without ever fully opening up unless absolutely necessary.
Elsewhere, space and the Universe influences ‘Tucana’, a layered track which has the least production effects of any track on the record and feels organic and pure as a result. ‘Starliner II’ and ‘The Electric’ provide some of the lengthiest tracks on the record, each epic but distinct from each other; ‘Starliner’ heavily influenced by electronics and an reworked version of one of the bands earliest tracks, whilst ‘The Electric’ is very indie in its production and style.
Aetherlight is a fantastic record and rich reward for those who have waited so long for it. It is soncially diverse and at times majestic in its scope, yet remains cohesive due to the recurring themes of self reflection and exploration, as well as the vocal performance of Bassi, musicianship and ambition of the whole group and production of Ken Thomas (Sigur Ros, M83, Daughter).
Aetherlight is out now on CRC Music. The band has also announced some EU tour dates for later this year, below.
25 – Mascotte, Zurich
26 – Chelsea, Vienna
28 –Privatclub, Berlin
29 – Nochtspeicher, Hamburg
30 – V11, Rotterdam
01 – Sugar Factory, Amsterdam
Words: William Sutton