If you were to go off their name alone, you might be inclined to imagine Bastard Mountain as unholy hellraisers; purveyors of brutal speed-metal or dense post-rock riffage.
In reality this couldn’t be further from the truth; comprised of Pete Harvey, Rob St John and Neil Pennycook from Meursault, Jill O’Sullivan from Sparrow & the Workshop, Rory Sutherland from Broken Records and Reuben Taylor from James Yorkston & the Athletes, they’re actually something of a Scottish indie-folk supergroup, bringing together like-minded souls from a variety of acts for a record that focuses on the spontaneity and freedom of musical creation in miniature.
This sense of freedom and space is accomplished through a series of experiments in live recording and collaborative songwriting that gently unspool outside the usual confines of pop (or even folk) music.
From the spectral intro to ‘Meadow Ghosts’ Farewell, Bastard Mountain deals primarily in muted, minimalistic folk, cruising by on a bed of drones and whistles.
With a gentle and naturalistic feel, this is not an album of grand gestures; generally its pleasures unfold on the micro level, revealing themselves through close and repeated listening.
The wonderful ‘Old Habits’ mournful fiddle and mordant organ contrast with one of the album’s most spritely vocals from O’Sullivan, while Sutherlands’s ‘Drone Armatrading’ is a terrible pun but a rather lovely song, inching along on shimmering harmonies and gently plucked acoustic guitar.
A cover of Dino Valenti’s ‘Something on Your Mind’ becomes a gentle rolling country ballad reminiscent of Low but in general Farewell, Bastard Mountain is at its most loveable when the group’s smart arrangements arise almost incidentally embruing the tracks with the feel of a campsite jam.
Not black metal then, but at times, just as devastating.
Words: Max Sefton