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HAVING a well deserved break isn’t something Piet de Pessemier is hankering for. As moody rockers Krakow downed tools, singer Pessemier, was all set to fulfil his dream of a solo record. Operation Mad about Mountains was go, and it was headed in a completely different direction, refreshingly off track and excitingly exploring new found freedom.

As the name suggests Mad about Mountains is an earthy side project and offers a debut album that can safely be put in the “Americana” bracket, with sounds that would be right at home on the prairie. Opener, Pray begins in a hum of reverberating dull echoes and Pessmier’s light vocal pleads are washed in glorious choral harmonies. The various layers of country music influences obviously come together pretty well, and the hillbilly trills of a mouth harp set the tone for the rest of the album. In fact, without sounding too daft here, you could split the kinds of music on Best Friend, say, into both country and western. Pessemier sings a  ballad that calls to mind open roads and wide-open fields. Set to a mournful harmonica, his bluesy, old-timely lyrics ring through “remember the old barn, right upon the hill”. In the End is a positive tale of love and future commitment, as Pessemier begs his other half for patience with promises of marriage. Beginning in a steady beat of plonky banjo and brushed drums, a sombre steel guitar adds tone in the background.

The record ends on an uplifting note. Heavy with reverb and set to a sturdy, simple rhythm,, Goodbye my Brothers is Mad about Mountains’ statement of intent.  Pessemier’s whistling vocals sing of reassurance as he packs his bags and heads for the open road; “don’t worry ‘bout me, while I find my place, just wait and see.” As a final goodbye, tiny tweets from a toy box nuzzle between surging harmonies.

It’s clear that Pessemier’s had an obvious direction for solo project and he can certainly call Mad about Mountains his own; from the artwork to picking up the variety of instruments that helped create the album’s full-bodied sound. Mad about Mountains is an album energised by new beginnings and endless possibilities. Pessemier’s proved that away from Krakow he can revel in the beauty of simple song writing and hold his own round a campfire.

Reviewed for Incendiary Magazine. Published online: 20th May 2012

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