Ambient, new age, Kosmische, drone, I’m getting all mooded up wandering between the trees in the park with headphones on, transported, body made fluid and derailed (it’s good to be off the rails), and is music like the weather sometimes, or is it just that whatever room you happen to be in could potentially make you a very different person than the last one. Kosmische, transmission, analogue, stir yourself or be stirred but sit there and listen and man there is a lot of this stuff flowing through the back arteries of the global village, coming from a lot of disparate places but damn if the States isn’t back to harboring some serious desiring of transcendence, splendor, love mood disorientation headfuck sonic embrace.
But Mountains have been at it for a while, only this time around they are apparently trying to get away from computer processing of acoustic sounds and transform them instead via “pedals, modular synths, and other analogue techniques.” A funny thing that, Air Museum being a record with far fewer overt traces of acoustic instrumentation — especially guitar — than their previous work, but also being more rooted in the physical world of things heterogeneous and not relegated to sculpted information. It’s an ontological argument. Some people care about it. Sometimes you do put on a record and say, “hey I haven’t heard this music before I have just heard the MP3 of the song…”
The last Mountains album for Thrill Jockey, Choral, was a record I enjoyed and that reminds me of a single snowy day in an otherwise snowless winter whereas Air Museum is all set to contain memories of a wretched and wretchedly windy late spring not without its array of stolen delights. Museum, not an unfitting word to end up in the title of this record as it feels to me a little museum, like ideas and sounds of Eno, Roedelius, Moebius, others, floating around, made of nothing but sounds, which as Tom Waits has said (well really he said songs not sounds) are just interesting things to be doing with the air. This music has the past in it but it is new, and it is definitely its own experience to be had.
What kind of experience? Well, as is common with Mountains, things are often bucolic but here a little more edgy: In the hypnotic, squelchy pulses and grizzled feedback of “Thousand Square” or the slightly disquieting screens of mobile buzzing that swirl across the surface of “Newsprint.” Romantic melancholy feels to be giving away to the real possibility of irremediable tragedy, disaster. But you can’t quite make out exactly what it is you are seeing. But the back-end of the record is loaded with serotonin-releasing sound sculptures, churning oceans of inextricable, layered sounds. Bliss at boundaries dissolving.
Know your machines and improvise. Find whatever it is that comes out that you really had no idea was going to come out. Discovery… Discovery… Discovery? There is an epic, monumental feel to Mountains’ music. While a lot of things are merging to form a dense field of sound, they seem firmly held together…this is a strength and a weakness, the thrill of the growing, overwhelming entity that somehow never becomes unfamiliar. Warm or weird. Two poles of this cosmic analogue meandering? Mountains are warm, strange as that may be.
Stream: Mountains – “Thousand Square”