“Mountain Sound” is a song performed by Icelandic indie pop band Of Monsters and Men which was released as a second single from their debut studio album “My Head is An Animal.” Written by Arnar Rósenkranz, Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir and Ragnar Þórhallsson, it tells the story of a character who commits a crime or action that opposes the values and cultural norm of his society. He then flees from the area to escape capture by the authorities and take refuge in the forest and mountain sound. Along the way, the character also runs into creatures that threaten his existence and therefore is forced to travel only at night to avoid visibility from any external forces.
In the first stanza, it proves the statement that “journeys are commonly instigated by escape from a previous circumstance that doesn’t appeal to the individual.” In accordance to the song, the character had to escape as quickly as possible “from all the trouble [he] he had caused with [his two hands.” Apart from that, the use of the metaphor “travelling on with nothing but a shadow” where the shadow refers to the character’s guilt that he carries along as he escapes, shows one of the emotional obstacle that the character encounters throughout his journey.
The second stanza demonstrates the understanding that journeys are always speckled with obstacles which we have learn from and at the same time accounts for the importance of the journey itself rather than the final destination. In “Mountain Sound,” the traveller encounters are beings that had scars and scratches too unnatural to be of natural causes thus sparking his curiosity about their past. Upon further observation however, the traveller suddenly realises that these strangers were probably creatures that were not human based on the reference to “we were nothing like the rest.” The use of the phrase “as I looked around” hints that the traveller was surrounded by the creatures and is therefore in a threatening situation.
The chorus revolves around the description of the traveller’s journey, where he can only travel at night to avoid capture. This description is enforced in the form of an advice from a more superior being which in this case appears to an angel or deity, hinted by the changeover to a woman’s voice, which is stereotypically accepted as compassionate as well as the use of language which is phrased in the form of an admonishment: “hold your horses now, sleep until the sun goes down.” This chorus supports the statement that “in a bid to escape, one journeys to a refuge that provides security and peace of mind.”
In general, the essence of the song is further amplified with specific musical techniques, first of which is the echo effect created by the digital delays in the electric guitars. This effect creates a suspenseful and dramatic scene about to unfold, in reference to the second stanza where the traveller suddenly realises his vulnerability to the strangers as they surround him.
Besides that, the choral section that sings the lines “sleep until the sun goes down” and “deep into the mountain sound” adds spirit and energy to the song which relates to how physical journeys are always affiliated with movement and energy. It also appears as cheer of encouragement to motivate the traveller to continue his strive for his goal.
Furthermore, the incorporation of a duple simple time signature and a drum routine of a “snare, bass, snare, bass,” shows the prolonging of physical journeys and the fast pace that the traveller is forced to carry out.
In relation to the movie Rabbit Proof Fence (2002), both works share the same motivation that instigates a physical journey, which is to escape from a previous affair and retreat into the security of a refuge, which in Rabbit Proof Fence is the girls’ home in Jigalong while in Mountain Sound, refers to the deep forest.
Apart from that, the travellers have to face obstacles along their journey; both having to travel through vast distances which itself is laden with other adversities that extend its difficulty. In Rabbit Proof Fence, the girls are forced to journey through harsh terrains with insufficient supplies and a professional tracker hot on their heels. Likewise, Mountain Sound features a long distance to the desired refuge further laden with the sense of guilt from the traveller’s previous actions.
Just as Rabbit Proof Fence features a narration in the Aboriginal language that projects a sense of belonging and extracting the prejudice of the audience to the Aboriginal point of view, Mountain Sound uses first person language to connect with the listeners as it appears to be accounted from personal experience rather than sophisticated words phrased beautifully into neat packages of rhymes and rhythms.
Last but not least, the paradoxical statement in Mountain Sound “sleep until the sun goes down” actually explains how in order to remain unseen, it is essential to travel only during the night, therefore creating a brief pause in a listener’s interpretation of its meaning. Similarly in Rabbit Proof Fence, the girls had to constantly mask their tracks and remain hidden in bushes to avoid capture from the tracker.
On a personal note, “Mountain Sound” connects with my inner feelings and soothes my heart to the core. At the same time, it teaches me that we should never run away from our problems but use wisdom that we have acquired or from the guidance of a wise individual to resolve them. This can be related to the simile of our negative personalities as trees and in order to entirely uproot these established traits, we have to strike at its roots and not just the branches. As a whole, our problems should not ignored or ran away from but to be confronted and subdued in order to spur integral human development and an individual transformation.
Courtney from Study Moose
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