parody by nacrowe
i was thinking the other day about how music serves as a soundtrack to your life and how certain artists literally follow you around.
for me that band is MASTODON.
LEVIATHAN (RELAPSE, 2004)
i was first became aware of MASTODON in college when they were out touring their album LEVIATHAN. the album was a loose reimagining of HERMAN MELVILLE's MOBY DICK along the lines of a touring band following their dream but wishing for the comforts of home. as an ENGLISH major, how could i not love a band interested in literature? i wrote term papers to that album.
CRACK THE SKYE (REPRISE/SIRE/RELAPSE, 2009)
i remember listening to CRACK THE SKYE while going through the months-long process of applying for PEACE CORPS when i was living and working as a long-term-substitute teacher at STUYVESANT HIGH SCHOOL in NYC. when i learned that i was accepted and i had a departure date (country to specified later), i immediately thought i may be going to the UKRAINE. so given this album's RUSSIAN monarchy theme, it was only too perfect as a soundtrack to my reading of ROBERT K. MASSIE's epic NICHOLAS AND ALAEXANDRIA book centered around the doomed TSAR NICHOLAS II and his family. the sound of it fit perfectly. plus i got to see them tour this album at MADISON SQUARE GARDEN on their tour with ALICE IN CHAINS and DEFTONES. i had floor tickets. beyond sweet.
THE HUNTER (REPRISE, 2011)
turns out i was assigned ALBANIA, not UKRAINE, and I was in the remote mountainous northern region of KUKES on the border with KOSOVO when THE HUNTER came out. for me this album recalls cold trips through serene mountain passages along dirt roads in the ALBANIAN ALPS where our ride would stop to allow wolf packs to cross the road. just epic. i hear it and i can still smell that mountain air.
ONCE MORE AROUND THE SUN (REPRISE, 2014)
somewhere between LAKE TITICACA and the AREQUIPA DESERT in PERU i was able to obtain this album by dubious methods when it released. before getting it i had just seen the SACRED VALLEY, MACHU PICCHU and COLCA CANYON with its centuries-old fields scalloped into the mountains with running streams below and hovering condors dotting the sky overhead. when i heard the album the first time i was going through the AREQUIPA DESERT (driest in the world) with severely chapped lips counting the vicunas wandering afoot untouched in the distance. the album fit the vibe of that country perfectly.
EMPEROR OF SAND (REPRISE, 2017)
i streamed this via youtube when it first released as i was en route to HA LONG BAY from HANOI during a trip through VIETNAM. when i hear it i think of ungodly traffic and dusty BUDDHIST temples carved into rock on elevated vistas. what a gorgeous country.
MASTODON is an epic group and i feel fortunate that I got to experience their past few albums while in some pretty incredible places that more than lived up to the scale and scope of their music. i am definitely looking forward to their new release (whenever that is) which will most likely take place from an equally compelling locale: my car while driving down the GARDEN STATE PARKWAY.
enjoy this DEER GOD RADIO episode on MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC from a few months back pre-PANDEMIC dedicated to MASTODON.