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KING BUFFALO — Longing to Be the Mountain (Oct. 12, 2018)

KING BUFFALO — Longing to Be the Mountain (Oct. 12, 2018)  KING BUFFALO — Longing to Be the Mountain (Oct. 12, 2018)KING BUFFALO — Longing to Be the Mountain (Oct. 12, 2018)✹    Možná docela nejsou ve stejné lize jako Arbouretum, ale pokud budou pokračovat v této žíle, pak budeme mít skutečného uchazeče. Základní nákup.
Location: Rochester, NY
Album release: October 12, 2018
Record Label: King Buffalo
Duration:     41:50
1 Morning Song   9:50  
2 Sun Shivers   3:29  
3 Cosmonaut   3:57  
4 Quickening   4:19  
5 Longing to Be the Mountain   10:22  
6 Eye of the Storm   9:53
✹    Written and recorded by King Buffalo in Rochester, NY at the Main Street Armory in 2018.
✹    All arrangements by King Buffalo (c) 2018
✹    Produced by Ben McLeod
✹    Engineered by Grant Husselman
✹    Mixed by Sean McVay
✹    Mastered by Bernie Matthews
✹    Acoustic Guitar by Ben McLeod
✹    Artwork by Adrian Dexter
✹    From the echoing sounds of birds that begin ‘Morning Song’ to the final drifting guitar lines of ‘Eye of the Storm,’ King Buffalo’s Longing to be the Mountain is nothing less than a band taking their approach to a new level. The Rochester, New York, trio of guitarist/vocalist Sean McVay, bassist Dan Reynolds and drummer Scott Donaldson teased this progression earlier this year with the Repeater EP (review here) and its sprawling title~track, but even that 13~minute opus didn’t quite give away the full reach of the second long~player to come. Now some five years removed from their 2013 demo (review here) and having also released a split with the defunct Lé Betre (review here) in 2015, the three~piece follow~up 2016’s Orion (review here), which was the best debut released that year, by taking a progressive step forward in songwriting and performance.
✹    Longing to be the Mountain benefits from the time King Buffalo spent on tour not only in consideration of these factors, but in its very makeup — it was recorded with All Them Witches guitarist Ben McLeod producing (Grant Husselman engineered, McVay mixed, Bernie Matthews mastered), with whom King Buffalo have toured more than once, and its cover art is by Adrian Dexter, who is also known for his work with Elder, with whom King Buffalo are Euro~labelmates on Stickman Records as well as former tourmates. Even before one hits play and McVay’s bluesy guitar sleeks its way into “Morning Song,” the value of experience shows itself, and in the graceful patience of the 10~minute opener, with McLeod’s acoustic and McVay’s electric layers intertwining, there’s a sense of serenity at the beginning of the six~song/42~minute journey that seems to last much longer in the best way possible, even as Reynolds adds further heft to the melody and Donaldson’s bouncing hi~hat assures there’s a sense of motion to underscore all the methodical heavy psychedelia surrounding. It is a dynamic the first album more than teased, but which King Buffalo now deliver with earned confidence, and along with the memorable craft they show throughout the shorter, post~opening salvo of “Sun Shivers,” “Cosmonaut” and “Quickening,” and the breadth in the final pair of the title~track and the aforementioned “Eye of the Storm,” both of which also top 10 minutes in length, that chemistry between the three of them helps to make Longing to be the Mountain one of the best albums of 2018.
✹    Each of the three longer~form cuts — that is, “Morning Song,” “Longing to be the Mountain” and “Eye of the Storm” — makes its way to a rousing payoff, but there are distinctions nonetheless in the personalities among them. “Morning Song” makes the turn somewhat drastically, with the guitars and drums dropping out to let Reynolds present the nodding groove on his own before the full band returns to surge forward. The title~track moves from its synth beginnings through a build of proggy noodling into a sort of pre~apex midsection before receding and pushing forth again in its eighth minute, while “Eye of the Storm” begins with immediate motion thanks to Donaldson’s drumming and maintains that active feel through crunchier riffing in the first half that carries through a heavier jam into a final build and then the payoff that pulls back to let the album quietly make its way out led by the gotta~hear~it bassline. These subtle differences in structure belie the superficiality of Longing to be the Mountain having two modes of working — i.e. longer and shorter songs — and make it plain that the band are engaged not in the execution of one formula or another, but the exploration of varied ideas and modes of expression.
✹    McVay’s emergence as a frontman is notable for the performance he gives on guitar and vocals throughout, conveying emotion and poise alike on “Morning Song” and being no less at home riding the cascading riff of the subsequent “Sun Shivers” or giving a human presence to the psychedelic wash late in “Cosmonaut,” but the truth is Donaldson and Reynolds are no less crucial to the impact of the material, and even McLeod‘s acoustic guitar seems essential in “Cosmonaut” for providing an earthy underpinning to all of McVay’s ethereal, floating tone. As the psych~via~grunge of that track gives way to “Quickening,” the band showcase a proggier style of composition, with a tense line of guitar and a resultant fluidity that comes across as something of an answer to All Them Witches‘ “Alabaster,” and give an especially hypnotic push en route to the album’s best stretch of lead guitar, singing out with a heightening melodic awareness and adding to the overarching impression of creative growth at hand. It’s quick perhaps in comparison to some of the stretches to come in the title~track and “Eye of the Storm,” but not at all to be discounted for its depth of songwriting. Again, a new level for King Buffalo.
✹    And they back it up with two songs that, together, comprise nearly half the runtime of the album as a whole. “Longing to be the Mountain” makes a hook of the titular lyric, and expands the ideology of “Quickening” with an underlying rumble and spacious synth/keyboard added to not only provide an introduction, but to flesh out the dual~layer post~midpoint solo just ahead of a stop from which the band — McLeod included — pivot to the rhythm that will carry them through the crescendo and out, via fading feedback, to the more active start of “Eye of the Storm.” Its title delivered in the first verse, the closer feels more immediate, but with hints of vocal harmony from McVay and a gradual movement from one part to the next, there’s still an element of the patience of “Morning Song” and “Longing to be the Mountain” at work.
✹    The double~payoff keeps it from being simply an afterthought following the title~track, and perhaps telling, the jam at the end — again, Reynolds’ bass; yes — sounds more or less like it could keep going rather than wander into its fadeout as it does. I’m not sure I’d say that’s an intentional message saying there’s more to come, but it gets the point across either way that the evolution they’ve undertaken as a unit isn’t necessarily finished, and like Orion before it, Longing to be the Mountain is both a significant achievement on its own and a herald of what may yet be in store from King Buffalo. Whatever the future brings, for the smoothness of its flow between varied songs marked out by choice performances, for its deep~running sound and resonance of tone and emotionalism, and for the obvious heart that’s been poured into every second of its making, Longing to be the Mountain is a search that seems to find that what it’s looking for was there all along. It is a record that feels like home. ✹    http://theobelisk.net/
Chris Kies
November 25, 2018
✹    It makes sense that power~trio King Buffalo’s sophomore LP, Longing to Be the Mountain, is bonded by three forces: flow, space, and, of course, heaviness.
✹    The pace on LTBTM is much like the smooth cadence and perpetual hypnotic groove of hip~hop star NAS — it’s deliberate, powerful, and always bobbing forward like the Iron Fleet in Game of Thrones.
✹    Space is much more prevalent than on King Buffalo’s 2016 debut, Orion. Bookend bloomers “Morning Song” and “Eye of the Storm” exude the group’s blossoming confidence (and patience) — aided with the complementary vision of fellow psych~blues warrior, producer Ben McLeod of All Them Witches (who also plays acoustic guitar on the album) — providing air for suspense, tension, and crescendoing releases.
✹    With the added breathing room, the explosive parts build and powerfully bust through like a blues~tinged, psychedelic, kraut~rock~powered tsunami best felt in the doubled solos of “Quickening” and the thunder~cracking climax of the title track.
Must~hear tracks: “Morning Song” and “Quickening.” ✹    https://www.premierguitar.com/
Bandcamp: https://kingbuffalo.bandcamp.com/album/longing-to-be-the-mountain
Website: http://kingbuffalo.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kingbuffaloband
Twitter: https://twitter.com/kingbuffaloband
Label: https://www.stickman-records.com/

KING BUFFALO — Longing to Be the Mountain (Oct. 12, 2018)