Essential New Music: Mountain Movers’ “Walking After Dark”

Walking After Dark picks up right where its predecessor, World What World, left off in 2021. At the time, things didn’t look so hot, and while Mountain Movers had recorded WWW before the pandemic, its songs felt like responses to what was going down. Dan Greene’s lyrics depicted folks huddled in their basements, sheltering from societal breakdown and pleading for a little relief, which the rest of the band provided with empathetic rhythms, liquid guitar leads and judiciously situated echoes of great rock sounds out of the past.

Walking After Dark shows how Mountain Movers made it through. Like everyone else, these four New Haven, Conn., musicians had a lot of time on their hands, but no gigs. So, they retreated to their practice room to jam, giving free rein to their experimental impulses. With no pressing need to put the songs onstage, they gravitated to instruments that don’t usually get lugged to shows.

Ross Menze plays bongos instead of a drum kit on opener “Bodega On My Mind/The Sun Shines On The Moon.” The rest of the combo takes its cues from his relaxed pace, patiently braiding Greene’s sullen strumming, lead guitarist Kryssi Batallene’s gorgeous fuzz tones and Rick Omonte’s questing, contrapuntal bass into a 10-minute trip beyond urban bleakness and into the beyond. They cut the mooring lines to song form altogether on the next track, “Factory Dream,” in order to drift on a tide of bubbling synthesizer and low-key, conversational guitar exchanges.

These two numbers set up a dialogue that plays out over four LP sides, between observational songs and increasingly spacey sonic explorations. Walking After Dark posits a sustaining response to a world gone bleak. No matter what’s happening outside the rehearsal space’s four walls, it’s possible to making something satisfying inside them. [Trouble In Mind]

—Bill Meyer