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Mountains “Centralia” 2xLP (Thrill Jockey)

Mountains I know nothing of this artist known as Mountains.

I like scribbling without the, um, benefit of a onesheet, or biographical info. If you are a typical beloved and diligent internet music wonk, you’ll know where to look for background on these Mountains folk of which I write. Right? Who knows, I may even peek at some information at the end of this review and fill you in. Or not.

This is a double LP on transparent red vinyl (since out of print, now black vinyl, nyah nyah). The disc labels are blank – not even a “side A” or “side B”. It’s annoying, but I’ll get over it. I squint under bright light at the innergroove matrix etching of what I think is side A of disc #1.

There’s a lot of layered synths here, with what sounds like analog monophonic knob-twiddling backed with drones and sine-wave tweaking. The sound builds to a long crescendo, then subsides into some sweet string sounds and more drones. It’s “organic,” in a kosmiche sort of way. I like it. Sounds good loud. The second track is more acoustic-guitar based and forments a repetitive, trance-y pattern with more drones and oscillated bits overlaid.

Side two begins with a dawdling sequencer riff that’s soon supplanted with another acoustic guitar mantra. The drones come up in the mix and everything pretty much is blended at the same volume. I sense a certain Terry Rileyesque mood — anybody who multitracks muted keyboards and weaves sustained single notes like this has to have a bit of In C in their collection (after writing this, I looked at the track listing, and the song is called “Circular C.” Sometimes the song titles just write themselves, yeah).

The rest of the album proceeds in much the same manner. It’s spacy, introspective, and more than a little druggy. If you happened into a dimly lit room with scarves over the lampshades, dozing cats on the sofa, pillows on the floor and the sweet scent of opium hanging in the air, this could be the music wafting from unseen speakers. Sometimes the sound is crystalline, sometimes hazy, and sometimes it descends into something resembling Flying Saucer Attack-caliber ozone (especially on side three).

The effect? After a hard day at work, there’s potential here to have your alpha waves temporarily flatlined. If that’s what you’re going for, anyway.

Vinyl quality: not excellent. There’s some loud pops. Chalk it up to the red vinyl? Considering the quiet instrumentation, though, it’s not bad.

This works as background music at low volume, or active-listening ambient texture at higher levels. With some novacaine, nitrous and headphones, Centralia might help make your next root canal a relatively pleasant journey.

It’s easy to do this stuff, but difficult to do it well. Mountains do drone right.

Purchase Mountains Centralia from Thrill Jockey


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