Buck Meek – Haunted Mountain

Haunted Mountain must stand as a masterful achievement, even within the catalogue of unequivocally magical records Buck Meek has already had a hand in

Album Review by Jo Higgs | 21 Aug 2023
  • Buck Meek – Haunted Mountain
Album title: Haunted Mountain
Artist: Buck Meek
Label: 4AD
Release date: 25 Aug

Buck Meek is too often done the disservice of being referred to solely as the guitarist of Big Thief. Naturally, being undoubtedly one of the greatest and most consistent bands of the last ten years, one could hardly complain, but his own solo records are comparably gorgeous and rich in lyrical poetics, as Haunted Mountain further consolidates.

This release engages a wider dynamic variety than either of Meek’s two prior solo records, reaching further towards both jolting rock arrangements and lullingly mesmeric minimalism. Mood Ring evokes the stylised production of Phil Elverum (The Microphones; Mount Eerie); a gentle rustling throughout, a warm piano sound that seems to contort itself, only to find higher beauty in each reformation, and dainty vocals hanging imperfect but stunning amidst a slow-blowing swarm of sound. 

From the heavier cuts such as the distortion-laden Cyclades to the tip-toeing of Lullabies (aided by bowed violin, raw and tragic), the intimacy and openness of Meek’s songwriting is unfaltering. Tracks like Where You’re Coming From and The Rainbow are tastefully layered with instruments of all sorts, exploring space and harmony. The opening moments of Undae Dunes explodes into a Cobain-esque mimicry of the noodly-shredding endemic in ‘cock-rock’, before later repurposing the moment as an abrasive but texturally pleasing addition to a high-energy number collaged with wonderful imagery such as: ‘Two full moons lighten up the evening / The undae dunes soften breathing’.

Meek’s vocals have always been quality, but on this release he has truly reached another level. The soft breathiness is used to the greatest emotive evocation yet, and the controlled manner in which his voice breaks cleanly into the following note in a way inimitable to few others than teenagers (certainly with less class than Meek) is impressive to the point of awe.

Across Lullabies and Lagrimas, Meek provides a masterclass in the specific vein of vocal performance that is almost entirely unique to him. Under the lilting expression of ‘Take my words little birds to call upon the mother of clouds’, is a set of guitars, pianos and drums, each evoking the slowed-down dying thrum of a recently plucked elastic band as it slowly resumes staticity. Haunted Mountain must stand as a masterful achievement, even within the catalogue of unequivocally magical records Meek has already had a hand in.

Listen to: Mood Ring, Lullabies, Lagrimas