Skip to main content
A Magazine for

Big Thief Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You

Crystalline nature and apocalyptic technologies form an uneasy symbiosis on the fifth full-length from Adrianne Lenker and crew.

4AD

Released: 11 February 2022
Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You

The contents of Big Thief’s sprawling 2021 offering, Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You, are as difficult to get your head around as its title.

Recorded over a year in four locations spanning the mountains and woodlands of the United States, the record is a chaotic patchwork of wildly different sounds and recording styles. The opening one-two captures this; ‘Change’, a lullingly familiar country ballad, gives way to ‘Time Escaping’, a polyrhythmic, unearthly gamelan of prepared acoustic and electric guitar.

There are other novel touches, like the murky trip-hop rumbling of ‘Blurred View’ and the sequenced karaoke percussion of ‘Wake Me Up to Drive’. The band makes no definitive break with past incarnations of itself, however, with the stylistic innovations represent a widening, not change, of focus. Ultimately, this is a searching record.

At the heart of the album, attempting to pull together its disparate threads, is the vocal-lyrical persona of Adrianne Lenker. Tremulous and ageless, she adopts the role of an omniscient mountain oracle; see the frantic, prophetic delirium of the impressionistic title track, or the ancient wisdom of the droning ‘Sparrow’. Crystalline images of nature are counterposed with alternately ominous and ecstatic images of apocalyptic technology; a “drone of fluorescence” looms over ‘Simulation Swarm’, while “electric waves” invigorate ‘Time Escaping’.

But there are limits to Lenker’s authority and concluding song ‘Blue Lightning’ can only settle on uncertainty and self-contradiction: “To the end, will you be my friend? (...) I wanna live forever ‘til I die.”

Filed under: