Live Music Week – Mountain Range

It’s a week of frankly brilliant sounding live music coming up on For The Rabbits this week.

We kicked off with Mountain Range on Saturday night (more on that in a moment) and continue into the week with Volcano Choir tonight, Arcade Fire (or should I say The Reflektors) on Tuesday and The National on Wednesday so it’s safe to say you should be hearing about all of them as the week goes on.

Live music has a unique joy, almost an entirely separate entity to the carefully constructed wonder of a brilliant album. Taking your music out into the world and trying to play it live is a terrifying and exhilarating experience and these days a vital part of how any band can exist.

I discussed the music industry and live music at large with Mountain Range main man Stuart Thomas in a taxi the other day, he raised something I, as someone who’s generally not an expert on electronic music, had never considered. A lot of purveyors of electronic music never actually play live, the complexity of set-up, cost implication and inability to replicate the recorded sound mean it’s an awful lot easier for them to just play well received DJ sets. Yes there’s certainly an element of artistry to playing a good dj set but how refreshing it is to see someone taking electronic music and performing it as they would in the studio…so without further ado


So many of you might not know who Mountain Range are/is. The work largely of producer Stuart Thomas, on record at least, it’s stunningly intimate electronic music, that’s as reminiscent of post-rock bands like Explosions In The Sky as it is electronic contemporaries like M83 or Four Tet. Basically David Guetta this thankfully isn’t!

So far a couple of EP’s into his fledgling career and already garnering a fair amount of attention in the blogosphere, I’m reliably informed work on a full length album of entirely new material has already begun but it was in support of the superb Adjustments EP that we find Mountain Range making a relatively rare foray into the live arena.

Fleshed out to a two piece live by the presence of Kier Finnegan what instantly struck me about the live set up was just how much effort and equipment goes into making this sound. Far from the lone man behind a laptop set up so favoured by many these days this was a band almost in the old fashioned sense. There were real instruments! Guitars (expertly plucked or bowed, a trick out of the Sigur Ros post-rock book if ever I saw one), Bass and even some live drums to compliment the electronic beats. This was a spectacle to watch for the old-fashioned purists like myself. However it was watching Stu play his electronic equipment that provided the biggest thrill for me, every button push and twist of a nob sent the music spiralling off in new directions. Every bit as complex as the recorded sound this was music created with as much care, love and attention as it would be in the studio.

Tracks like “A Silence of Three Parts” (a remarkably loud song considering it’s title) and “The Past Is The Past Is The Past” worked beautifully. The key to the success comes at least partly because of the underlying energy to his work. Yes this music could be described as ambient but it’s got elements of techno, orchestral music and even a touch of metal thrown into the mix. It’s a thrilling thing, one criticism? Don’t leave it so long between shows next time!

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