Time Is a Mountain: II
Repeat Until Death

We had no small amount of praise for Time Is a Mountain when its self-titled debut appeared on Häpna in mid-2013. On that outing, keyboardist Tomas Hallonsten, drummer Andreas Werliin, and bassist Johan Berthling breathed considerable new life into the tried-and-true keyboards-bass-drums format through the sheer force of their conviction and the irrepressible energy of their playing. All three are members of other bands, too, but it's Time Is a Mountain where their respective talents seem to converge most dynamically.

On II, Werliin's drumming has lost none of its punch since the earlier outing (witness the way he digs into the powerful groove to get “AutoBo” moving), and Hallonsten and Berthling play with corresponding degrees of enthusiasm. From the wistfulness of the woodland opener “Alicetti” and grandiose closer “Drumlings” to the aggressive roar of the bruising “Memento Mono” and Crimsoid “Sepian,” Time Is a Mountain's music wails with celebratory joy. But as exemplary as the trio's playing is, the recording also is distinguished by the strength of the compositions, seven wide-ranging examples of which appear on the group's sophomore effort.

There's something especially appealing about the organ playing on the forty-minute recording—perhaps it's the warmth of the instrument's sound and the aura of nostalgia that an instrument with so many decades and associations behind it brings to the music. One can't help but think of the early folk-tinged days of prog when Hallonsten's organ melodies flow across the rhythm section's base; if it is prog, it's prog in its finest form, lean, vibrant, and endlessly rich in melody. Music as seductive as “Outside Verona,” however, transcends category; here and elsewhere, the three coalesce into a tight unit wholly committed to dazzling the listener with a heartfelt kaleidoscope of song. Shifting effortlessly between time signatures and melodic episodes, Time Is a Mountain sweeps the listener along on a carpet ride that takes in huge vistas. Needless to say, one's time and attention are amply rewarded by this stellar outing.

November 2015