Swedish atmosheric act YOUNG MOUNTAIN remain one of the most powerful, honest and intimate composers and performers working in European alt post hardcore scene today, and their new masterpiece “Lost Tree” taps into a welter of styles, making a variety of textures vibrant and proving the band’s artistry. While it might be easy to think they sacrifice their heavy spirit for gentle hooks and ambient accessibility, the album is a carefully crafted work of art with a clear intention and great at captivating listeners. We have teamed up with the band to uncover its full immersive and engaging narrative and give you an insightful track by track commentary!
Mixed and mastered by Jack Shirley at the Atomic Garden and recorded by Karl Kaardal at Pathfinder Productions, the album is available directly from the band and multiple labels: Through Love, Miss The Stars, Zegema Beach, Dasein Records, Pundonor Records, Hardcore 4 Losers, and on tape via No Funeral Records (Canada), Blade Records (US), and Cactus Tapes (EU).
Here’s what the band has to say about the record and it’s concept:
Early on we decided that we wanted to create something that was hard to show to people due to its personal nature. It wasn’t just a concept for us, but it was also a form of therapy. You could say that it is a cryptic letter to the world, Filled with all the negative energy that has been building up over the years. The idea was originally a draft for a novel inspired by reoccurring dreams that Kami had been working on.
We started to dig into topics like “Identity Disturbance” and the taboos surrounding it. How many aspects of our society program us into thinking this and that about other people, animals and our planet. We hide behind pretty inspiring words about solidarity and unity, but when things get grim we show another side of ourselves.
What is the value of a living being in your eyes? What do you believe in?
Don’t take it as we are just pointing fingers at other people, these thoughts apply to us all.
We decided to mask this concept in a fictitious story called “Lost Tree.”
It is a story about shifting between what seems to be several realities.
We wanted the album to play out as a soundtrack to the story, and therefore we put minimal constraints on what it should sound like.
It’s a blend of thousands of emotions fighting for the spotlight.
Asunder, To Eye Each Other:
We as a species have always been obsessed with the idea of death, maybe it’s because we can’t really grasp the idea of non-existence. That hasn’t stopped us from trying to have our own theories like the concept of an afterlife. The thought of hell being something man-made.
In our narrative, this is the first time the protagonist of Lost Tree comes in contact with the entities that are portrayed on the album cover.
The main inspiration came from the song “In the house, In a heartbeat” by John Murphy. It’s despair personified in a single track.
We saw before us a lonely house in a barren landscape and wanted to find a way to visualise it with our music, A different take but still very inspired by the 28 days later movies.
The drumming and the manipulated samples help to create this cinematic vibe.
Jakob: This song is my baby, I had so many ideas about drum layers right from the start that the other guys didn’t have a clue about. So when we entered the studio I told them that I would be trying a couple of things, experimenting with layers. It resulted in this really grand atmosphere.
It’s the epitome of the music I want to create when I get behind the kit.
The more I analyzed the song the more I got this picture in my head, A vision that eventually became the Album cover.
The Sun Is Away:
Kami: It’s a sad song embedded in a happy sound. A portrayal of a person that always wears a mask when interacting with other people. Not showing what you’re really feeling, I think many people can relate to that.
Then again we are different people in the band, For example, Jesper associates this song with fond memories of loved ones, just hanging out in the sun and that’s probably why you can find elements of true happiness in the sound as well. I think it’s an important cornerstone of our band, the merging of different emotions.
Jakob: The Sun is like a curveball, First you have this doomy behemoth pummeling through your ears in the opening track, Then all of a sudden I start playing this really poppy beat. It’s not expected, but it’s not out of place either.
It’s a song about a complicated relationship with our city Gothenburg.
Our home has the potential of incredible beauty but it’s mostly a grey, windy and cold place. Filled with both wonderful and tragic memories.
Jakob: I consider this to be the bastard child of the album. It’s not really out there but still, it’s such a fun song to play.
Joakim: The result of a jam session, I started playing the opening guitar and the rest just went along. Jakob played this monotonous drum beat to force the rest of us to create this slow build-up with our instruments.
Jakob: This was probably the hardest song for me to write. I was struggling a bit with it but eventually, I just stopped thinking too much about it.
I started to strip back on the beats more and more and the other guys responded and it just started to work. There’s real beauty in simplicity.
Jesper: I remember that I tried to focus on just creating a feeling instead of thinking about what I was playing on my guitar. It’s a song that’s very iconic in how I and Joakim write our parts, It’s this ask and reply thing that’s going on between the instruments.
Kami: The second song on this album that is a bit more rooted in “reality” rather than dreams. It’s about dealing with the sudden passing of my father.
I sort of became this empty vessel drifting through the months following that, There was no way for me to show any kind of emotions towards other people.
It was something that I had tremendous difficulties talking about so I tried my best to use music as a coping mechanism.
Jesper: I like to think about the vibe of the song as a journey towards something, you have this constant build-up for a climactic moment that might never come.
Jakob: Juni is like a constant acceleration. I like to think of it as the most “Young Mountain” song that we’ve ever done.
Kami: The idea was spawned one night when I dreamt about vines moving through the walls of a building. When they got through, they would strangle me. I woke up scared and tried to tell myself that it was just a nightmare, But then the same dream reappeared during several nights. Sometimes the vines wouldn’t touch me, They would just stop a few centimetres from my face and just stand still. I was always in the same house, every single time.
It is a song about questioning one’s perception of reality.
You can make people believe just about anything during the right conditions.
Jesper: It was a much slower song in the first draft, Sort of a twin to the opening track. We were on to something but it still didn’t feel like it was finished.
Joakim: We wanted to explore further in the darker metallic vibes as we did on Asunder but switch it up a little.
The instrumentals were entirely recreated in a jam session in our rehearsal, It’s a method that we use on a regular basis to give birth to new ideas.
Jakob: I’m still amazed that we managed to write this entire song in one single jam session. I think it’s a song with a beautiful structure that flows really well. Playing it feels like an emotional liberation, It’s probably the darkest music I’ve ever created.
The entities led me to a giant tree that all of a sudden was standing right before me. It was projecting this ominous buzzing sound, It felt like the end of the world. I didn’t know if I was supposed to feel scared or liberated.
Kami: I like to think of it as a manifestation of how we are brought up in this world.
We are urged to give more and more of ourselves to society in hopes of being an accepted member of it. Because basically, that is what we all really want, to be accepted, to have meaning.
But when you start to feel that you are seen as something expendable you might change your view on things. You’re willing to distance yourself.
The first part of the song was written shortly after our former bassist and drummer had left the band. I, Jesper and Joakim were in the rehearsal and just started to jam a bit.
We recorded it on my laptop and eventually just forgot about the song.
Months later I all of a sudden had this really manic day, I felt so incredibly restless and couldn’t stay at home, So I grabbed my laptop, a bottle of liquor and went to our rehearsal all by myself. I remember that I was listening to fascination street just before leaving the tram stop.
In this drunken and mad state I somehow just wrote and recorded the rest of the song without really “being there”, It kind of felt like an out of body experience.
I Flew Above Your House Last Night:
Joakim: The song started as something inspired by lucid dreaming. I had this vision of floating over someone in the middle of the night while they were sleeping. I could sense that something was wrong, I was immediately filled with deep despair and I tried to wake this person up. Then the perspective switched and I realized that I was floating above myself. The really weird thing about it all is that I later talked to Kami about it and we realized that they also had a dream resembling mine (Asunder, To Eye Each Other.)
Kami: The opening and closing tracks are siblings, they’re both rooted in mind-body duality. I think it’s one of those things that you start to think about more as you grow older. Everyone we love will one day stop being by our side.
Joakim: I remember staying up all night with a sense of sorrow building up inside me, So I picked up the guitar and just started stacking layers of guitar over each other in some kind of act of exorcism. After what seemed like an eternity I exported the song, named it “I Flew Above Your House Last Night..” and sent it to Kami who totally freaked out.
Jesper: We had this idea pretty early on that we wanted someone outside of the band doing something on this song. A narrator, telling the events from the person in the bed’s eyes as well as the entities.
Kami: I Hate Sex were a band from Canada that we played a couple of shows with over here in Europe and we immediately fell in love with those people. So we asked Nicole if she wanted to do a feature and she was positive about that idea.