Every once in a while, a band somehow manages to come along and throw a multitude of easily recognizable sounds into the generic melting pot and then pour out something which is simultaneously recognizable and perfectly unique. That’s precisely what happens on Medicine Mountain, Chomper’s debut album. In just eight tracks, the band (which comprises members of Guided By Voices, The Men and Junk Boys) weaves together influences of Brian Jonestown Massacre, early Flaming Lips, Birthday Party and bits of other oddness borne of New York and Australia into a wholly captivating sound which never gets stale – no matter how often one listens to it.
As soon as “Hideout 3D” opens the A-side of the album, listeners will find themselves perfectly ensnared by the sound the band is making on Medicine Mountain. There, this three-piece comes off sounding as big and loud as an army as they howl, screech and power ominously through a droning progression for three minutes. Nothing that listeners hear here moves quickly (as was true of Brian Jonestown Massacre, the trick here is using uncompromising volume and dissonance), but that just means the right ears have all the time they need to soak it all up. For some, this beginning will taste like psychedelic soul food and those listeners will feel compelled to fill up like they haven’t eaten/indulged in years.
“I Wanna Die” comes along immediately thereafter to offer a second helping of the same fare (albeit with a more breathless and hoarse vocal delivery) before getting a little older school (think early Alice Cooper) for “2 Feet From A Rat” and then closing the side with the five-minute nerve-tingler which is the album’s title track. In the case of “Medicine Mountain” the band really shows some discipline by laying up and sounding as though they might just explode at any second, but does not – not even during the expanse of feedback which hits listeners at the two- and four-minute marks, or at the side’s close. It’s absolutely unbelievable how close the band comes to imploding, but the resolve is hypnotic.
The fantastic exertion made by the band for “Medicine Mountain” will have listeners scrambling to their turntables as the needle lifts from the A-side to flip the record over and keep the magic going, but the incredible thing about the B-side is how much Chomper lightens up with the fresh start.
Right off, “Fuzz Monster” buzzes in sounding like a Nineties alt-pop band (like a really hung over incarnation of The Lemonheads, maybe) before drawing a few parallels between themselves and Shadowy Men From A Shadowy Planet (on “I Wanna Live” (it’s the same kind of instrumental idea) and then just cutting loose and rocking the fuck out on “AKA Pool Boy” to close the album out with a band. It might sound like a simple exit, but there’s no question that it is effective. As the last crash and bang hits listeners and the needle lifts, gearing up for another trip through the funhouse that Chomper has designed on Medicine Mountain won’t be a decision that anyone takes long to make.
Medicine Mountain is out now on Iron Pier Records.