The Smashing Skull Sessions

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Am Fost La Munte Și Mi-a Plăcut – La Vale

"There’s no slow post rock build up needed here, you are literally swept into the sky on a magic carpet ride, sailing the blue, cloudless skies with that beautifully toned bass guitar acting as a thermal cushion, keeping everything in a state of heavenly bliss".

Right, so how do I even begin this review! Well, the First time I ever heard of Am Fost La Munte Și Mi-a Plăcut was at the forest stage at dunk!festival back in 2019. It was a glorious weekend of non-stop post music, and those of you who have experienced the forest stage, will know that it had the ability to conjure up a little bit of magic, as the lights shone through the trees, casting long shadows deep into the woodland, while the music lifted spirits and emotions, generating a majestic and unique atmosphere. Well, these five Romanian guys took to that very stage, and within two minutes of the opening track I was hooked. The energy, emotion and intensity they projected had everyone swaying, nodding and stargazing in unison.

So, when guitarist Mircea made contact with me, asking if I’d review the new album, I was both honoured and excited. I maybe two weeks late in getting it published, but some things can’t be rushed, and savouring La Vale was one such instance where I needed to absorb and fully appreciate the album before I wrote about it! So here I go….finally!

Ne Cerem Scuze Pentru Disconfortul Creat is the opening track, and it wastes no time in smothering you in a heavy post rock veil that shrouds from head to toe. The music is crisp, emotive and laced in rich harmonies and delicious plucked chords that blend beautifully with the harsh, heavy-drawn rhythm guitars. Those dreamy and slumberous drums march the track along nonchalantly, never panicking, and always in control. Even when the track breaks down to a plucked interlude, you know there’s no rush in reaching that post rock high, you know, that moment when the hairs stand on the back of your neck and a shiver channels its way down through every vertebra. Here, the melody intensifies but never implodes, and instead it fades away into the distance.

Tremolo chords hang and hover over a simple base line on Sertarul Cu Apă, and its that simplicity and that underlying melody that transcends this track into another atmosphere. There’s no slow post rock build up needed here, you are literally swept into the sky on a magic carpet ride, sailing the blue, cloudless skies with that beautifully toned bass guitar acting as a thermal cushion, keeping everything in a state of heavenly bliss.

Am Fost La Munte Și Mi-a Plăcut’s previous album La Deal was a real juicy slab of post rock with great harmony and timing, but I think La Vale has been a huge progression in terms of its diversity and song writing. Tracks like În Caz De Forță Majoră for instance, takes possession of some brilliant Mogwai moments, while Dar În 1996? is a heavenly acoustic piece that is soaked in dense thick atmospherics that slots in perfectly at the midway point. Even the heart-breaking tremolo intro of Nu Mai Comandăm De La Ăștia carries murmurs of Mono but in the same breath they rubberstamp their own sound on it with those powerful rhythm guitars, and that swirling lead guitar, that conducts and guides the track to that astounding post rock crescendo, it’s truly magical.

Kilometri Reali and Bravo Tată, Ia Uite Ce Băiat, Bravo are another two incredible tracks that carry with them a more old fashioned and trademarked approach to post music with their hugely atmospheric builds and their meandering guitars, that reach that near celestial moment, before exhausting all that energy into the great blue yonder. There’s nothing wrong with that either, isn’t it one of the reasons we adore this genre of music?!

The closing track on the album, Să Zică Și Băieții is the perfect track to sign off with. Beginning with open chords that reverb and echo, the track slowly plods along, giving the track great depth and room to breathe. Shifting harmonies, with a little groove and swagger, take the track along a different path towards that grand finish, that final destination, where every instrument opens up and carries its soul through each chord and percussive crash. It's like the swansong of an intimate live gig where every head and every limb launches forward in tandem, just as every power chord crashes against it. A really nice way to close out an album that has truly left its mark on me.

Am Fost La Munte Și Mi-a Plăcut are some of the nicest guys in the business, and I think they have taken a giant leap in going from the roguery people may have though they represented at the very beginning, to a tight and masterful post rock outfit. La Vale is as good as any album you will hear this year, and just because you can’t pronounce or spell the band’s name, doesnt mean it can't be up there as one of your albums of the year!