Whether intentional or not, the cover of Black Mountain’s fourth record not-so-subtly alludes to the Solway Firth Spaceman—a photograph taken by Brit Jim Templeton in 1964 that appears to show a non-existent astronaut standing behind his daughter. The future, the foreign and the out-of-this-world inexplicably intrude on the pastoral here and now.
Looking at some of the content on this record—“Florian Saucer Attack,” for example (check out the video below)—you get the sense that that’s exactly the sort of marriage of extremes Black Mountain were gunning for (see also: “Mothers of the Sun”). IV conjures the otherworldly as well as Construction & Destruction’s Dark Lark; it could’ve soundtracked Dune.
This isn’t a wildly different Black Mountain than we’re used to, mind you—they’ve just cranked the weird factor (and the synthesizers) a tad. All their best selves are on display: the bombastic, the psychedelic and the sentimental, and they mingle with a newfound dreaminess that culminates in the epic “Space to Bakersfield”—a dirge for those lost and floating in the void. Not a single song to miss, on this one.