Dusted Reviews

Mountains - Air Museum

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Mountains

Album: Air Museum

Label: Thrill Jockey

Review date: May. 9, 2011

It’s ironic that Mountains would call its fourth full-length Air Museum. The record seems ahistorical, oblivious to the musical past — or its present or future, for that matter. Even the group’s own background seems unwanted. For the seven pieces here, Brendon Anderegg and Koen Holtkamp entered a studio for the first time, but more significantly, jettisoned the computer as a processing tool for their acoustic instrumentation, and in its place relied on a battery of pedals and modular synths.

The trademark Mountains subtlety, however, is still very much present. In their compositions, Anderegg and Holtkamp rely not on the dramatic gesture but the nudge, theirs being not an art of arranging but of shaping. On their lauded 2009 album, Choral, they used this touch to turn extended droning forms into studies in gradual melodic development. On Air Museum, they’ve turned more toward rhythm and pulse. So the melodies now are more like elegant patterns tattooing out micro-rhythms, and the ever-present warm timbral glow the two do so well has become a kind of undertow, a more urgent wave motion. Sequences of notes coil around each other in taut helixes. Pieces don’t fade out but arrive at a few essential notes then stop.

If it wasn’t clear before, this concision shows that Holtkamp and Anderegg aren’t chasing any idea of the infinite with their open-ended structures and opaque sound. It’s the finite they are interested in, the way we understand specific moments in time or hear fine transitions between one sound event and the next. It’s fitting that the transformations their new techniques create have left the duo’s process nearly invisible, as by ear alone it would be impossible to say this album wasn’t almost purely electronic. It’s another way in which Mountains seem intent on covering their tracks, of getting people to look not at where they’ve been, but where they are.

By Matthew Wuethrich

Other Reviews of Mountains




Read More

View all articles by Matthew Wuethrich

Find out more about Thrill Jockey

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.