Manchester’s Waterless Hills lay an absolute gem on us, quietly eking out an eerily calm eddy of prog from under the scarred English skies. The group, which features previous Feeding Tube alum C Joynes on guitar and Dan Bridgeood-Hill on violin (Irma Vep, Charles Hayward), trades in a dark strain of folk that wanders the streets at dusk and wanders states of reality after that sun finally sets. There’s an outworld quality to the songs of The Great Mountain, and as much as that title conjures up visions of Jodorowsky’s nightmare wonders, the band makes good on them with aural imagery that’s as tarnished by ash, sand, and soil as his films. The record is dried by the sun — scorched, leathered, and laid bare — and in many moments that simmers from the speakers there’s a feeling of palpable sweat seeping through the songs. It’s not constant, though, there’s the respite of dusk and the cool ripples of clean water tumbling through natural cut rock in the bones here as well.
The guitars chime and bend, roll and ramble. The drums crash and skitter with a malevolent force and all the while that violin drags us to our feet time and time again to take the journey to the mountain on the mantle. The journey is the through line and we, as listeners, arrive changed certainly, but not exhausted. Instead there’s an elation, an unplaceable euphoria humming through the invisible wires of Waterless Hills’ offering to the endless horizon. Aside from a lone lathe cut sourced from the same sessions this is the band’s only output, but here’s hoping its not the last. The record finds its home here in the states on Feeding Tube and abroad in the arms of Cardinal Fuzz. Best grab one of these because neither of those labels has a tendency to let record sit idle in their bins.
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