Blast from the Past
Washington State’s Mos Generator (not to be confused with progressive rock band Van der Graaf Generator or Mos Def) have spent their careers offering up their own reverent take on the blues-inflected sounds of 1970s stoner rock. With their visually titled full-length Electric Mountain Majesty, Mos Generator stomp and twang their way through more ’70s vibes with an economic sense of focus and a minimum of indulgence.
For better or worse, nothing crazy happens on Electric Mountain Majesty. Each song is between three and five-and-a-half minutes long. Can’t remember what song you’re listening to? Every song (with the exception of “Heavy Ritual”) includes the title in the lyrics. In terms of performance and sound, everything is impeccable—Tony Reed, Scooter Haslip and Shawn Johnson are in total synchronicity throughout the album. Their instruments are in flawless tonal balance, the singing is clear and the mix is clean and spacious.
There are no ragas, no chants, no minutes-long guitar solos or backmasked vocals on Electric Mountain Majesty. There’s little in the way of frightening, down and dirty scuzz excursions or free-flying psychedelic drug trips. Mos Generator play things straight and accessible. However, there are a number of sub-styles of hard blues rock on display. “Nothing Left But Night” has a big-voiced Lenny Kravitz quality to it. “Neon Nightmare” is deliberate and bludgeoning. The title track has an upbeat “Sabbra Cadabra” feel while “Black Magic Mirror” is bleary and occult. Each of Electric Mountain Majesty’s ten songs has its own well-expressed personality, fitting naturally into the overarching structure of ’70s nostalgia.
Electric Mountain Majesty is a tribute not just to a style of music, but to a fondly remembered way of life: a simpler time and place in which men with long manes and facial hair were forever roaring in and out of parking lots that shimmered with the day’s warmth, carried by brawny, shining Chevy Camaros and Pontiac Firebirds. These white-shirted gods alight with practiced swagger into wood-paneled dive bars—noisy caverns, warm and resinous with cigarette smoke—and shrug off their brown leather jackets, revealing arms toned and tanned by a thousand days’ hard work.
Before audiences of gangling teenage boys and gum-popping sirens, they sip American lager and move in a perpetual dance around careworn pool tables, their smooth motions in harmony with that sound—that bassy, languid groove, that honest and plainspoken rumble of a decade, timeless and vital as the beating of the human heart itself. Electric Mountain Majesty strives hard to be that sound, and if you listen with the right kind of ears, you can visit that moment with Mos Generator, and stay in it for as long as the tunes last.