Monday, 24 October 2016

Track Of The Day: The Hound On The Mountain - 'Salamander Propaganda'

A superb new track from 'Cernunnos', the debut EP from The Hound On The Mountain, aka singer/songwriter Jordan Whatley. I first discovered Whatley back in 2011 when I attended a gig at The Pilot, a pub just down the road from where I used to live in the village of Bowerhill, a part of my old hometown Melksham in Wiltshire. I was there to see my friend Paul 'Bean' Walton, who makes up part of the superb Melksham ska/metal/dub/punk/fusion outfit Hell Death Fury. On this occasion Bean was playing a solo set accompanied by his ukelele, and was second on the bill. When I walked into the pub I was surprised to hear someone singing a brave acapella version of 'The English Curse' by Frank Turner, who I was a big fan of at the time. This voice turned out to be that of Whatley, who also played a number of acoustic covers as well as a few of his own songs. 

Ever since that night in 2011, Whatley has gone from strength to strength, writing more of his own material and playing gigs in record shops, pubs and other venues. In those five years he expanded his musical tastes, listening to a wide range of music old and new and absorbing many different influences. In 2013 he released an indie/folk flavoured mini album, 'The Shadowed Planet' under his own name. Read my review of that HERE. In the three years since, he tired of playing acoustic covers and developed a love of electronica and psychedelica, two styles that led to the creation of 'Cernunnos', an EP bursting with fantasy-based lyrics, prog-rock sounds and dark atmospheres. It's his first release as The Hound On the Mountain. 

Whatley describes the EP as "years of folk oppression being set free into a rock album. I've been listening to so much weird stuff over the last year and after hearing so many sounds, I just wanted to put that into music and create something i would be proud of. I centred it all around a forest theme: dark and atmospheric in places, but with songs that at the same time can propel you into a catchy chorus. It kinda ties in the two aspects of music I love. Think Talking Heads catchiness meets the dark atmosphere of Esben and the Witch."

While the opening hybrid of 'The Forest' suggests a fuzz-heavy Sonic Youth and Hawkwind hybrid, 'Ghosts Of Your Past' is one of his earlier songs, built on his original folk influences, and coming across like the Levellers-meets-'OK Computer'-era Radiohead. Displaying his range of influences, the catchy 'Tin Can' is cosmic indie glam punk with shades of Britpop and Aladdin Sane-era Bowie. The claustrophobic 'Porcelain Trees' is a bleak moment that absorbs the heaving drone-rock of fellow Melksham group Thought Forms, while also sounding a bit like Joy Division and The Horrors forming a supergroup.

The EP's closing track is the brief, snappy and rather bonkers lo-fi fireball 'Salamader Propaganda', which "came about with a riff I was toying about with. I love the idea of a having a track on an album that is short and which I could keep coming back to in a live setting like, almost a hook to be repeated between songs. The lyrics are completely based around the idea of a giant salamander destroying a town, a bit like the old Godzilla in Tokyo idea."

'Cernunnos' is available now in digital formats, with full-band live shows planned soon. The Hound On The Mountain can be found on Facebook HERE.

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