CD Reviews: February 2010 – Mountains recorded it’s third release, Choral, in front of a live audience with minimal overdubs added later for effect or layering. And despite the trappings of their genre (ambient), the record feels live, not stately. The Brooklyn-based duo pays attention to the listener, quietly adding elements like a fog descending in the early morning.
The long, horizontal hum of the title track opens up the show. Brendon Anderegg and Koen Holtkamp introduce blips and muted swells of feedback and three minutes in the first masterstroke of Choral peeks through: Something like a tenor singing through bad connections tries breaking through the electronic veneer. The “voice” grows, then the one note attempts to become a melodic line before getting looped back onto itself ad nasuem. Mountains even dares to taunt you with the illusion of rhythm. A deep, round bass thud occurs fairly periodically, but it doesn’t propel the song, it floats along with it. “Choral” finally tapers off with a gauzey guitar line.
“Telescope” begins with the steady cycle of acoustic strums, like a coffee house troubadour’s next lament, as small blooms of a synthesized flute and the ominous bubbling of a phase-shifted electronic whir. And as quietly as the different elements entered, the guitar has faded away and billowing heaps of hisses float over top slow pulses, and, finally we’re left with a field recording of rainfall.
On the following track, “Add Infinity,” Anderegg and Holtkamp trade acoustic and electric guitar lines over a thin, simmering film of synthesizer buzz, alternating between droning feedback and disjointed, finger-plucked lines. The track, while pleasant, approaches cliche; it sounds like a mash up of b-sides from Brian Eno and Fennesz, before finally adding the playful blooping of vibes a little shy of the eight-minute mark and ending on an up note a minute-and-a-half later.
Mountains will be sculpting sound with TAPE and Marlow Eggplant at The Picador on Monday, February 1.