Thought Forms started making music together in Wiltshire back in Spring 2004 and 2013 sees the release of their second album for Invada Records, "Ghost Mountain".
It takes all of the first 80 seconds to realise that this is a group who have moved on substantially from their first release for the Bristol based label.
Indeed, if their self-titled album from 2009 was about finding the dynamic limits of their atmospheric sound, gently prodding and probing varying elements, then the huge great slab of guitar that greets you instantly on their follow-up roars with the confidence of a band who’ve found their level from which to fully explore their creative expression.
Charlie Romijn (guitars / vocals), Deej Dhariwal (guitars / vocals) and Guy Metcalfe (drums) have already made their mark live – cultivating a colossal sound that bands twice their number would struggle to re-create, with appearances at various ATP events and tour support slots with Portishead and Esben and the Witch in the past year.
The album veers between two opposites, from brisk, scuzzy American garage-rock influenced numbers to brutal, anguished noise constructions of ethereal doom, where it feels like they’re tapping into a similar dark psyche to groups like Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Circle. With a psych slant too informing tracks like ‘Afon’ and ‘Burn Me Clean’ – where vocals are almost as though a ritualistic call to on high – the scope of Ghost Mountain’s sonic terrain is vast, the result of a varied approach to song writing where wholes form out of group jams – in the case of ‘Burn Me Clean’ from an improvised set supporting Master Musicians Of Bukkake – or from the chrysalis of an idea presented by just one of the trio.
Thematically, the group are coy on the album’s meanings, though what is clear is that subject matters are extremely personal to a tight-knit band who consider each other “family”. What they do give away is somewhat cryptic; the album’s title comes from a gigantic mountain range as big as the Alps that’s hidden under the Antartic’s ice and snow; song titles are a little more illustrative, both in theme and in clues as to the group’s influences. ‘Afon’ is Welsh for river, the group explaining that it “speaks to us of connections and something which eternally changes yet remaining the same at the core”; ‘Only Hollow’ is a tip of the cap to My Bloody Valentine’s ‘Only Shallow’. Then there’s ‘O’, called that because of the shape of the letter, the group using it to represent what they call “a circle of negativity”.
Negativity would suggest a bleakness to this album, and whilst in much of Ghost Mountain’s fire and brimstone there is plenty that could be construed as despair, the abrasion in it suggests something more conflicted; a battle between shades of dark and light, universal but potent battles between love and hate, of hope and loss. When flung together with the power that Thought Forms has, it makes for a quite formidable proposition.