Art is anything but restrictions, layer it and arrange it as your artistic eyes and ear see fit. This is a statement I found floating around my mental space during my repeated listens of Mt Fog’s latest full-length release, titled Spells of Silence. Hailing from Seattle, Mt Fog is an eclectic songstress, whose impeccable taste and delicate sensibilities allow her music to carry a fragile, yet distinctly powerful personality, one that she describes as “Forest Folktronica”.
Spells of Silence, set to release mid-October, is already attracting accolades to its 2 released singles, with ‘Behind A Silent Door being named KEXP song of the day. It’s easy to see where the praise is coming from, to the whole record, and to this song in particular. We had the pleasure to listen to the whole album and are here to report.
Spells of Silence is a distinctively artsy album. If you feel an urge to classify it as pop, folk, or electronica, you must incorporate the ‘Art’ badge within your classification, even though I strongly recommend not doing that, as this collection of bizarre songs seems to shapeshift with each listen. The focus of this album, as it became obvious to me, is a particular haunting aesthetic, that’s achieved in the first seconds of this album’s runtime and is then masterfully maintained throughout the songs. This aesthetic is, to my mind, fairy-like, bewitching, flattering, and floral, full of mythical mystique and visions of furry creatures that dissipate as soon as they meet the eyes. A beautiful landscape of sound that was welcoming, adventurous, and jubilant, but never dangerous.
The lead single starts the album. Behind A Silent Door gives everything up a little too soon. It will definitely be an attraction to ears but will build momentum that won’t be matched by anything that comes later on. Perhaps the plan was to send the listeners flying via an intense dose of this album’s charming vibes and then maintain this flight. While they were successful in carrying that out, I couldn’t stop myself from feeling an urge to return to this song’s adrenaline-pumping synth leads, playful sub-bass nuances, or charm-filled singing. Waiting Through These Years comes next. A brooding, dark art piece that carves the album’s aesthetic into stone. Frenetic and exciting layers of vocals and elegant sub-bass work alongside buzzing synths to create a mysterious earthy feel. Beautiful on its own, but placing it after the stunning opener might be doing it a disservice.
Sewn Together is when we first get acquainted with Mt. Fog’s beautiful operatic singing voice. Having been in the 3rd or 4th rows in the previous cuts, it strongly grabs the 1st row in this one, demanding attention. Boasting a great dynamic range, the almost whispered lows seamlessly morph into soaring falsetto lines in a gorgeous display of singing prowess. I Am The Sea, You Are The Cloud tries to recapture the riffy charm of the lead single but through a very different sonic palette. More open, expansive, and random, the distinct chord progression is layered upon countless layers of airy effects and attractive vocals, creating a pretty painting of open seas and puffy clouds in a bright sky.
Vow of Silence starts a trio of mid-album, non-descript songs. Beautiful, but with nothing standing for them to set them apart. With liquid gold synth leads and a melody that repeats, Vow of Silence makes use of its hypnotic atmosphere to bring forth its message. Melancholic and lonesome, with quirky layers of vocals, its beauty is easy to get sucked into. I’m The Lake is an artistic experiment that doesn’t lack musical quality. Maybe sitting as the least entertaining song on the record for me, with its stale beat that seems to fade in and out at inconvenient times, and the dissonance-lades vocal part that makes this song one of the least accessible. We are now at the farthest point from the immediacy and fun of the starting number. ‘Ingot In The Dark is the dark side of ‘Behind A Silent Door’. Slow, sensual, syrupy, and powerful, the sub-bass finally returns to being an interesting addition to the mix, instead of just sitting there as a given. The Things That Left Us continues the streak with a striking vocal part, a characterful drumbeat, a unique singing melody, and complimenting synths.
Not a perfect album, by any means. But whatever this album lacks in any randomized aspects is more than made up for by its beautiful poetry, characterful voice, one-of-a-kind arrangements, and by having a delightfully quirky and unique vibe that stands on its own and paints this release with a solid, confident palette or striking colors, at once distracting, unusual, yet harmonious and provocative.