High Chair Excels on Hey Mountain Hey LP
Some of the information about Hey Mountain Hey, the latest magnum opus from High Chair, acknowledges that certain songs were inspired by different forms of literature, such as tales from J.R Tolkien, another writer, and Navajo proverbs.
That all may be true, but one listen to this album—or just a gander at its artwork or its song titles, even—instantly reveals the fact that it’s the best encapsulation and musical rendition of Elf Quest that’s likely ever seen the light of day.
Those familiar with Wendy Pini’s surreal sagas will instantly realize what lofty praise such an assertion unmistakably is, but it’s true. The album’s artwork is the siege at blue mountain. The titles “Stargazer”, “Tree and Leaf” are practically the names of the characters. There’s even a ditty called “Breath of Life (Black Wolf Lament)”, for crying out loud.
But more importantly than what may perhaps be dismissed as coincidental similarities, the ethos exuding from this album—it’s sense of danger, revelry in the natural and nature, tacit sexiness and otherwordly appeal and feel—is the supreme fantasy of planets and ecosystems that don’t exist yet could, if for no other reason than one can envision them while reading Pini’s literature, marveling at her art, or just playing this album.
So starting with the sublime, tracks like “Tree and Leaf” have an unbelievable richness to their percussion, some form of shakers or something, with the most beauteous acoustic guitar maundering you’ve likely heard in a while. Mind you, that’s before Billy Surgeoner touches down with the bass and unveils the full tapestry of percussion inclusive of timbales or some other ethnic variety while pining to “take me back where I belong”.
Plus he’s got a female vocalist complementing him with a celestial soprano that positively soars as she kicks back on some good ol’ fashioned ‘ahhs’. This melding of voices occurs frequently on these songs, especially on “Once Again” which opens with a lead flute that’s surely the sort of music that was played by the elves in the aforementioned literature. The percussion is equally lush, the flute is pirouetting, then Surgeoner takes all rhythm out, drowns you in bass and those wondrous acoustic guitars, and begins to sing with a panache beyond that of the average vocalist.
Thus it goes for this album, which is a delight to listen to or look at (its art and song titles).