Review Summary: Beautiful and easy to understand
Instrumental music is always a bit of a gamble; although vocals can drag albums down just as much as they elevate them to wondrous heights, it is my opinion that - no matter how bad they are – they add a certain element of passion, intensity and – perhaps most importantly – reality that is the easiest way to engage the listener; the sound of a human voice is easier to latch onto and relate to than a mix of instruments because it is such a massive feature of everyday life that its familiarity can be utilised and/or manipulated to great effect. Therefore, in the absence of such a feature, instrumentals are perhaps set at a disadvantage; they have to somehow replace the focal point of vocals by being something extra, something special that screams out that it is strong enough to stand on its own and engage just as strongly as any music with vocals could. This has been done in a variety of ways, which range from being creative and fascinating to devastatingly boring, but the tried-and-tested instrumental styles – post-rock and progressive metal being major culprits – have been repeated and rehashed so many times with so little innovation that it often seems as though the original, interesting instrumental is a dying breed. Enter Where Mountains Meet.
For the unacquainted – which, sadly, will probably be the majority of people reading this – Where Mountains Meet is a project that combines orchestral sounds with electronic elements and comes across as innovative and refreshing. The first thing that struck me is how absolutely listenable
it is; there is nothing inaccessible or off-putting to be found here and the music exudes a certain timelessness that makes me feel that anyone, anywhere in the world could be listening to this, most likely late at night, and feeling exactly the same way that I do. That is not to say it is pure accessible and lacks depth; repeated listens prove that it becomes more and more immersive over time and remains consistently satisfying.
The album’s greatest strength is its cohesion the way it works as a whole; it is clearly meant as a single piece of art that is split into movements, especially since there is a main theme that recurs throughout it. From the beautifully serene opening of Eternity? to the downbeat final moments of Perpetual Composure, the album flows beautifully and transitions from phase to phase with absolute ease. There definitely high points; most notably, Eternity? has made me experience feelings that music has failed to impart since when I first heard Anathema’s Sentient
, the upbeat piano interlude in Shapes in the Emptiness is and unexpected, wonderful addition, and the upbeat intro of Perpetual Composure draws the album together quickly, preparing it for its conclusion. However, all the songs are of good quality, and as a result it is almost effortless to listen from start to finish. It is well-timed as well; being just under 20 minutes means that the warm, comfortable atmosphere never starts to drag or lose its luster as it might have done in a full-length. This is amongst the notable releases of 2012 for me, and I recommend it to everyone.