UK-based psychedelic prog-rock duo High Chair release Hey Mountain Hey via Kiyabisu Records, the third album of their trilogy beginning with 2018’s The Butter Thief, followed by 2019’s The Dharma and the Drama.
The album’s title was borrowed from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Act 4, Scene 1, where Prospero speaks the phrase “Hey, Mountain, Hey!” Other references on the album include the track “Tree and Leaf,” loosely based on a short story by Tolkien; “The Door of the Law” is from Kafka’s short story of the same name; and “The Pollen Path” has its provenance in an old Navaho adage.
Made up of Billy Surgeoner (guitar, keyboards, bass, violin, Guzheng, vocals) and Rokiah Yaman (guitar, vocals), High Chair began the music on the trio of albums in the ‘90s, recording the demos on a reel-to-reel TEAC machine. Resurrecting the songs, High Chair re-recorded and completed the tracks with added lyrics.
In the early ‘70s, Billy played bass and sang with the prog-rock band The Mynd, along with his brother, Bob, who was the lead guitarist. The Mynd disbanded in 1979, followed by Billy moving to London, where he played keyboards in various bands, including Glam Punk and The Cuddly Toys. In 2005, he started releasing ambient music as High Chair, and from 2014 to 2017 he released four electronic dance CDs as Chiron Dawn.
Guitarist and singer-songwriter Rokiah played in acoustic folk, rock, and acapella outfits, releasing her debut album, Shortest Road, in 1998, and is presently working on an EP produced by Billy. Her primary influences include the Beatles and Yes.
Hey Mountain Hey embraces 10-tracks, highlighted by “Stargazer,” which opens on swirling, chaotic colors akin to a storm of sound. It then flows into a dazzling prog-rock melody riding a driving rhythm accented by potent guitars and rich, redolent vocals.
“Tree and Leaf” travels on gentle gleaming guitars topped by Billy’s luxurious tones. A soft, percolating rhythm infuses the tune with a deliciously mellow cadence. Radiant harmonies fill the song with glowing coloration.
The drifting psychedelic savors of “Once Again” float on dreamy textures, followed by jangly-colored guitars, glinting with sparkles of luminous hues. Creamy vocal harmonies infuse the lyrics with luscious timbres, gliding on trembling washes.
“Bring It Down” blends heavy guitars with bright horns and then transitions to layers of pondering lysergic blushes. “The Door of the Law” rides alt-rock guitars pulsing with growling energy, vaguely reminiscent of Neil Young’s denser music. Whereas “The Pollen Path” recalls Led Zeppelin covering The Allman Brothers. There’s a Southern rock savor to the track, which, combined with kaleidoscopic patinas, delivers a marvelous sonic concoction.
Hey Mountain Hey offers alluring prog-rock essence amalgamated with psychedelic pigments. High Chair parades their gifts on this album.