Life can be hard when you’re a time traveller. Just ask the Helmholtz Resonators what it’s like to be a Victorian audio-scientist who traverses space and time in a crystal submarine. Actually, you don’t have to ask. As it happens, they are about to release an album which is also a story which is also an illustrated iBook. Complete with moving pictures, it tells you all you have to know about … well, going into the mountains to fight an evil witch. And slimy monsters. And about which weeds not to eat (hello Alice). In short, The Mystery of Woolley Mountain is not just an album. Of course, it can be heard as an album, and even bought as a boring old mp3 version. But it can also be experienced with visuals and a completely over the top adventure story starring the five Resonators with the beautiful names Garland Vanderbilt, Carlton Breezy, Chladni Plates, Vandamme Laudenkleer and Frithel Stock-Stone.
Now, the soundtrack to this desert-based fairytale is, first of all, a lot more accessible than one might think. With Shadow (People), Sunshine and Automaton the Helmholtz Resonators have already presented a string of singles, all of them equipped with catchy hooks and a mostly light-hearted attitude. But of course, as the concept album tackles themes of depression and addiction among other things, darker and more experimental tracks have their place on it as well. Genre-wise, it’s almost impossible to place – the term “psychedelic” is often too abstract to really fit the on-the-spot songwriting going on here. In fact, the Helmholtz Resonators steal just as much from dream pop and cabaret, mixing in sound effects like the witch’s evil cackling for dramatic effect. While this may sound like a highly complex album that demands your full attention every second, The Mystery of Woolley Mountain actually works perfectly fine as a relaxing background soundtrack – and is sure to provide you with a few tunes that get stuck in your ear for a while. Like the one below, Automaton, literally a track written about the glee of having built a little robot. In this sense it probably couldn’t be more typical of what the Helmholtz Resonators are all about.
The Mystery of Woolley Mountain is released on February 27th.