Monday, 11 April 2016

Single: Calan Mai - Mountain Mountain feat. Linying

Calan Mai Mountain Mountain Linying

Calan Mai - Mountain Mountain feat. Linying

- Review by Noël Duplaa

Info: Australian singer/songwriter Calan Mai (aka Jordan Lawrence) has released ‘Mountain Mountain’, the first single from his upcoming sophomore EP This Isn’t How You Get Home. Featuring vocals from Singaporean artist Linying, the track marks his first having relocated from Gold Coast, Australia to Manchester in early 2015 to focus all his energy on his music, the track manages to both serve as a chronicle of the turmoil of that period, while also rallying in defiance.

Many years ago, at a Frames gig, Glen Hansard, speaking about their song 'Star, Star', remarked that he would often write songs that played like hymnal pleas to some external force, but were really personal attempts to generate a bolstering internal force against external pressures. Little melodic pep talks, if you will. While ‘Mountain Mountain’ comes from a similar place, it manages to do so in a more complex and ultimately fulfilling manner. Opening with a nursery rhyme melody married to pulsing and muted percussion the song abruptly expands into dubstep as reimagined by Bon Iver.  Fluttering, delicately embroidered electronic touches amplify the song’s earthy ache rather than just showing off for the sake of it, displaying an ease and fluidity that only comes with ruthless precision.  It makes so much sense that this the finalised of a song that has been gestating and evolving for 2 years.

But the real artistry here is in the lyrics. Calan Mai follows in the footsteps of a long legacy of singer songwriters who built their names on their ability to distill complexity in perfectly phrased couplets while tearing your heart out with a single line. For example, everyone’s probably experienced the isolating numbness of getting caught in a 3am tv spiral, but failed to phrase it as perfectly as, “my wind up night mind is keeping the telly alive.”  And look how easily he can evoke the desperate, crushing sadness that can constitute just getting through a day, “I’ll call you on Sunday, I’ll call you on Sunday/It’s always the same way, the weekend’s too far.”  He’s pulling off a David Lean sized trick here - talking about the tiny, crushing minutiae of day to day life against the backdrop of great mountains being pummeled over millenia - without ever losing sight of the tiny details that ground the imagery. The point is: the towering mountains in question only exist because of millions of years of unbearable pressure, but, equally, their size and history doesn’t exempt them from the relentless forces of everyday life. And ‘Mountain Mountain’ stands as a testament to this metaphor - being both the result of overwhelming stress and a defiant stand in opposition to it. 

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