Album Review: Penicillium Bipolaris by Mount Signal

It’s always unusual nowadays to find a band or musician who’s not heavily promoting themselves. We’ve written about plenty of these artists before, such as the Cleveland-based duo The Surface and Philadelphia’s Piranha Petting Zoo. Another one I came across recently was a California-based artist who goes by the name of Mount Signal.

This mystery man from El Centro, California, has made music under other monikers, including Wolfman Dracula and Ptolemine Treescope. He’s a member of a band called Bong Sword and has played in plenty of other bands, including Starlight, The 13th Movement, and The Drunken Draculas.

About Mount Signal

It’s hard to find much information about Mount Signal. He has no social media accounts, and I honestly didn’t feel like tracking down accounts for the plethora of other bands and projects he’s involved in.

His Bandcamp profile facetiously says he’s the main songwriter for Radiohead, Yes, and Megadeth, so we guess he has a wry sense of humor. His profile also says he’s the “owner of a lonely heart,” which maybe he soothes by making anonymous music like his recent Mount Signal releases.

Speaking of those releases, he’s dropped quite a few recently. The album Maude appeared on Bandcamp on March 26, 2023, followed by Penicillium Bipolaris on April 16. A single called Dragonmaster came out on April 16, and then an EP called Old Growth the next day. He’s been a busy man.

The Songs

Thunderclap Hotsauce opens things with a rollicking and very short song that’s a little more than a minute long. It has a driving drum rhythm and wild guitar playing complemented by weird synthesizer sounds. The song lets us know from the get-go that this instrumental record will be strange.

Cat Spasms comes next, and it’s even more frenzied than the previous song. The name is indicative of the music, as Mount Signal’s guitar wails and screeches and chugs along at a frenetic pace. The song slows down near the middle but finishes with the punk rock energy of before.

Dale & Laura is the next song, a short one at a little less than two-and-a-half minutes. Mount Signal’s bass playing gets more of a spotlight on this one, along with some interesting guitar effects. I like how he slides up and down the fretboard to play brief spurts of offbeat guitar solos.

Magatose Murder is the album’s longest track. Like Cat Spasms, it has the same punk rock feel and energy, plus similar guitar solo freak-outs. The guitar playing style and tone also slightly remind me of what’s expected in surf rock. This track also slows down at the midway point and strays into a cacophony of strange synth sounds and guitar licks. It’s a bit unnerving, but I still liked it.

Aesop’s Silent Clock follows much of the same formula as this record: the fast-paced energy, the wailing guitar, and the steady rhythm. It also had me thinking that while this music could very well be considered heavy psychedelic, so much of it owes to the legacy and influence of punk rock.

Meanwhile has my favorite guitar riff of the record. It has the most groove on the album, throws off the punk rock for the moment, and feels more like a stoner rock song. The rhythm section is also killer.

When the Dead Come Crawling closes the album with one of the heaviest, most doom-metal riffs and feels of the entire record. This is a track that many metal fans should enjoy, with all the heavy riffage they could want. It switches between down and up-tempo and is a great way to end the record.

Final Thoughts

Sometimes the best music flies way under the radar. I wouldn’t say Penicillium Bipolaris is one of April’s best heavy psychedelic releases, but it’s worth your attention. The mysterious artist known as Mount Signal may not get much coverage, especially since little information can be found about him, but that’s not because his music sucks.

Penicillium Bipolaris is a great instrumental rock album with elements of heavy psych, doom metal, stoner rock, and, generally, all the genres we tend to love here at The Third Eye. It may not blow your proverbial socks off, but it’s a worthy addition to any playlist you plan to make now or soon.

Support Mount Signal by finding him on Bandcamp.

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