For an album that has the word “mountain” in its title, the music on The Silent Watcher, the Mountain Is Woe sure seems to be in quite the hurry. These instrumental songs are quite different from normal acoustic-based music, with the first two tracks speeding along with an anxiety-inducing frenzy that is technically quite impressive yet lacks the patience and precision to build any sense of atmosphere. This short album, after all, only clocks in at under twenty-five minutes. In the background resides the vague yet recognizable structure of droning ambient music, which is difficult to hear underneath the guitars. My assumption is that this element is meant to convey some form of post-rock feeling or create that overwhelming sense of atmosphere that usually accompanies the genre. Instead, The Silent Watcher, the Mountain Is Woe—despite its epic title—just sounds like two different, very disconnected approaches playing out parallel to yet separate from one another.
Each song follows roughly the same pace, only slowing down towards the end so that the background noise can come through the mix a bit clearer. It’s not until the final moments of “Life on Wires” that something more remarkable begins to shine through, leading to the piano opening of “They Speak to Me in Sleep,” the first song to slow things down a bit. The whole album just goes by in a blur, and it leaves me unsure as to how t0 feel about it when it’s all said and done. The Silent Watcher… sounds as if Geary utilizes many of the same guitar patterns, and it’s difficult to even pinpoint what separates one track from the next. The final and title track is also a bit slower which, alongside the piano, is where the album’s strengths reside. The last two songs are longer than the previous four combined, and the second half as a whole is definitely much stronger, largely because it does not sound so excited to impress with quick playing virtuosity, which leaves no room for the music to breathe in the end.
I think I understand what Matt Geary is trying to do here; creating quality droning ambiance solely with guitar can be quite difficult, so he tried to add an additional monotonous and continuous sound in the background to help add thickness and texture to create that kind of feeling. Unfortunately for him, the rest of the music needs to fit in harmoniously with the calm and sedated aspects. My suggestion to this young artist would be to take a breath, speak some mantras like he recommended himself in track two, and try again. While the skill and ability of Geary’s guitar performance is clearly well on its way, The Silent Watcher… equally lacks the combination of certain notes that make a song strong, as well as a set of chord progressions that are undeniably addictive. In the end, this is simply a case of a youthful artist stumbling early on as he finds his way, and we have no doubt that Geary will offer better things to come.
01) Line of Despair
02) Remedies for Shaking Hands
03) Clocking Out
04) Life on Wires
05) The Speak to Me in Sleep
07) The Silent Watcher, the Mountain Is Woe