Australian electronic duo Hermitude have spent much of the COVID lockdown getting grounded in the picturesque Blue Mountains in Australia. The time spent has culminated in their latest album Mirror Mountain that's finally released on May 6th via Nettwerk and Elefant Traks.
An eight-track release, Mirror Mountain was recorded at Angus’ home on the outskirts of the Blue Mountain town of Blackheath, just as the rest of the world went into lockdown. The pair opted for a pared-back setup of one synth, one laptop and a Moog Matriarch, attempting “not to over-clutter the music," they explained. “Recording Pollyanarchy was a fun experience, but it was also tiring,” said Angus.
“We wanted to strip everything back and return to the essence of why we started Hermitude in the first place,” Luke added. “Which was just us two locked in a studio in the mountains having a bit of fun and seeing what came out.”
Speaking to the album in-full, track by track, check out the EARMILK-exclusive breakdown of Hermitude's Mirror Mountain album below.
This song basically set the tone for the entire album. We wrote it in New Zealand while we were still finishing our last album, Pollyanarchy. It had an undeniable energy and positivity about it but it was so far from anything on that project. So when it came time to start work on Mirror Mountain, we knew we had this banger in the bag and that was super exciting for us heading into these next sessions. It gave us a clear direction that we wanted to head in and it turned out the be the perfect catalyst for what was to come.
LIFT ME UP
The intro of this song had always been intriguing but it took a few goes to find out what the backbone of this beat would be. We always loved the ambience of the intro synth and we put a sample of some black cockatoos flying over the studio which really set the mood, but it wasn’t until we found a riff on the Moog Matriarch that it really started to cook. A syncopated chord progression that slowly evolved over the course of the tune became the star and then things started to unfold around it.
All of the foley on this album was recorded in our hometown of Blackheath in the Blue Mountains, including the choir that appears on the intro of this song. The local choir “The Heathens” were rehearsing in the community hall where we had come for the afternoon to record some percussion. I heard some faint angelic tones floating down the hallway so I stuck the microphone in there and caught about 30 seconds of gold. We harmonised it with some Juno, slapped some chunky drums and a bangin bassline on there, and got our friend from the mountains Andie to sing on it.
WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE THIS
This is one of those tunes that always sounded great, even as a demo. There’s not much going on but it’s just pleasing to the ear. All the sounds worked really well together but it was obvious that it needed vocals. We wanted all the collabs on Mirror Mountain to be on home soil so we reached out to Sam from The Jungle Giants to see if he’d be keen. Literally an hour after we sent him the beat he excitedly texted us back saying he had some vibes! We were lucky enough to get in the same room as him when he put the vocal down and his positivity really shone through. The session was just a mad hang. Fun party times and exactly what the album needed at that point!
In the late afternoons while we were working on Mirror Mountain, the autumn sun was low enough in the sky to beam through the windows filling the entire room up with beautiful golden rays. It was really invigorating yet peaceful and serene. One of these afternoons we plucked a sample of the piano we’d recorded at the community hall and started a riff. This riff quickly blossomed into something special incorporating a gentle yet upbeat rhythm and some more of the local choir. Before long we had the sketch of Golden Hour.
FLUSH WITH LOVE
The piano samples we recored at the community hall were really something special and this is another song that they feature heavily. There was an old national guitar that was lying around so we played in a riff which worked seamlessly with the piano. Then the bassline for this song was a recording of my hills hoist! If you don’t know what a hills hoist is it’s an outdoor clothes line quite common in Australian backyards. I just hit it with a stick and pitched it down and it was perfect. Just enjoying the moment I put down some vocals which were excerpts from romance navels. When I describe it like this it sounds like a crazy barrage of randomness but somehow it all pieced together to make a beautiful song. This was a big part of the Mirror Mountain sound. Just having fun, being carefree and following wherever the music took us.
TIDES OF TIME
I don’t think we do it intentionally, but we always have one really dreamy journey type track on every album we ever put out. This one started as a simple riff which we slowly added to. Having the Moog Matriarch and the Juno 6 as our main palettes really simplified things, and also allowed us to really explore those textures. This song dives deep into those sounds and I think starts to get really interesting when the bass comes in and questions whatever notions you had in your head of where you thought this song was going. It’s also a bridge that helps take you across to the last track…
While we were writing this song there was something very familiar about it, yet quite different. Mirror Mountain is about us returning to where we grew up, but in a different stage in our lives. We’ve had wonderful opportunities and taken our music all over the globe and now we’re back where it all began, looking over the same mountains but with different eyes. And what gets reflected back is this new sound we’ve created encapsulating everything we’ve learned on our travels but still has an undeniable sense of home about it. That’s what this song feels like to me. It feels like us in the studio 20 years ago, yet it has all this growth and new stories to tell.