What comes to mind when you think of Switzerland? Trains? Watches? Chocolate? Hauntingly beautiful and dazzlingly melancholic indie folk? Thought not. Geneva’s Cotton Mount are a band whose sound is difficult to pin-point. Having managed to self-finance their début album Still Life, set for release later this year, the band are now hoping to make a name for themselves and move outside of their native Switzerland and in to “the larger and more diverse London…scene.”. And well they should. The overall aesthetic is romantic and quaint, whilst harbouring a darker undercurrent that, at times, swells to overbearing proportions while light and progressive melodies are punctuated with occasional moments of moody claustrophobia that melt away almost instantly.
‘Golden Doll’ is a prime example of the bands darker sensibilities; the first minute of the song is nothing but an understated and foreboding bass line that works in duality with singer Igor Varidel’s husky and self-deprecating drawl. It as if the instruments featured in ‘Golden Doll’ are trying not only to work together, but also against each other, trying to assert themselves as the instrument that propels the song forward. An honour that ultimately falls at the feet of Varidel and his unique vocal work. Conversely, tracks such as ‘Abbie’ offer up a slightly lighter, almost dream-like atmosphere and vocal harmonies swell to the point of breaking in a manner much like that of Bon Iver, while a finger-picked guitar gives one brief respite from the moments of cloying darkness that are present throughout their music.
The sweeping atmospherics that the band have a penchant for will appeal to fans of acts such as Radiohead or Sigur Ros, while the vocals could lend itself, really quite easily, to that of a Republic of Wolves record, particularly on ‘In Blue Colour’, a further example of the bands less oppressing side; wind seems to swirl in and out of the instrumentation on this track and the ever-present reverb on the vocals seems particularly strong here.
While the overall sound of Cotton Mount might not be immediately accessible to listeners, particularly if they’re idea of indie-folk is Mumford & Sons, it is a sound that slowly reveals more and more with each listen; and those who wish to dig a little deeper will find an unusual and juxtaposed sound that mixes several aesthetics, sometimes even in to a single song. Emotions run riot, as do instruments as the band incorporate moments of shoegaze-y intensity in to candid and poignant sections of understated beauty. Cotton Mount are a band that take some getting in to, but when you do, you’ll know about it.
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