Mount Forel – Small Worlds: Album Review

A debut album from the multi-national post rock band  Mount Forel. Reputed to have met under an apple tree they certainly have gravitas as contenders for highly listenable sonic experiences.

Release date :  7th May 2021

Label: Fallen Swine Records

Format:  Digital / Limited 12” vinyl

It’s a competitive world out there in prog/post/rock land. A few major generals have crept out the woodwork this year to revitalise their long careers. As well as a wide variety of homegrown, continental and in particular Scandinavian groups emerging, it is difficult to make a mark but Mount Forel with their stunning debut album Small Worlds should more than meet the challenge!

The fact that prog rock is now an international affair is reflected in this multi-national setup. Hailing from the US, NZ, Japan and good old Manchester, the divergent national traditions are evident in their splendid music. Mount Forel comprise of Ross Thompson (Lead Vox, Gtr), Takaco Iida (bass, BVs), Pete Garner (Gtr, Keys) & Andrew Wakatsuki-Robinson (Drums & toys).  

It’s understandable the subject matter has a global flavour. The group is named after a Greenland peak and the first track Greenland is a powerful, rugged sound, strong lyrically. Warmer and calmer climes are reflected in the tune about Oxfordshire town, Witney.  A lovely setting  to live and record the album set out clearly in the refrain “there is no place like home.” The overall sound is like a mix of early Floyd and Snow Patrol. In complete contrast is Costa Rica where stretched guitar notes develop into a jazzier ‘Canterbury prog style’ ending.

As rock music goes Mount Forel can equally blast along like the rest. but there is a commercial  highly listenable quality to their imaginative music. America, the next track, ends with joyous clean- ringing guitar. Russia also follows the calm to crescendo pattern with more searing guitar; this time a catchy song suddenly erupts into wild straining guitar but then another melodic and jazzy rock interlude builds and builds again to a manic finish.

Our next stop is Elba. A Floydian opening with a wide variety of guitar effects are predominant. A bluesy feel begins Silicon Valley which bemoans the too heavy influence that the IT moguls have on our lives. The final track, Norway,  fluctuates between acoustic strumming, bluesy keyboards and a repeated lyric wanting to be saved by love.

The tracks last between 3 to 6 minutes but they are packed with a variety of musical adventures, each one allowing the chance for the fascinating music to wax and wane and develop its own character. Not a second is wasted creating a rich and deep sound.  Using a wide variety of sonic, sometimes spacey, effects the songs tackle a wide variety of global issues, climatic concerns, extreme polarised political ideas, the power of technology, and the wide spectrum of social differences.

Their live gigs have a notoriety for audience participation. The wearing of blindfolds and painting during performances are surely experiences that enhance the ferociously rocky,  melodiously bluesy, airy and celestial music. 

The album is co-produced by the band & Jake Murray who then mixed the release at London’s Strongroom Studios – the birthplace of many a classic record. Mount Forel has the potential to create one of their own classics.

Check out the Mount Forel store (here) where you’ll find a VERY limited run of 50 pressings of the album on vinyl, numbered and signed by the band that also comes with four polaroids taken on the journey to make the album.

Mount Forel online: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Youtube

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