Mountains — Mountains Mountains Mountains

Posted by on July 24, 2013

Mountains x3

Originally released on eccentric Baltimore boutique imprint Catsup Plate in 2008, Mountains Mountains Mountains is the aural equivalent of a band at a crossroads. Koen Holtkamp and Brendon Anderegg’s third LP as Mountains quietly surfaced as a new direction for the duo, who’d cut their teeth honing refined drones and delicate field recordings while co-curating the brilliant Apestaartje label. The duo’s initial two outings (both the dense self-titled debut and the darkly glistening Sewn LP) felt apart from the herd, two bold statements of processed drone music at a time when loud drone duos were a dime a dozen. Mountains Mountains Mountains‘ four expansive tracks — two short, two long — reveal the band’s new brighter take on heady experimentation, reveling in an ongoing tryst of organic acoustic progression and patched electronics — a sentiment that’s been central to Mountains’ template ever since.

Opening track “The Whale Years” transforms a late night hotel improvisation from a tour in Georgia in 2005 into a 12-minute drift of shimmering guitar reverberations and re-purposed ephemera. “Millions of Time” exercises a loop of meditative nostalgia that ebbs and flows with symphonic resonance and addicting repetition. Fittingly titled “Hive” buzzes through a swarm of bright tones and softly stinging sounds, as though a contact mic was secured inside a beehive. Obvious nods to Fennesz and Tim Hecker’s tumultuous textures and belabored beauty shine through, but this is Mountains setting themselves alongside those celebrated artists in a genuine, appropriate way.

To celebrate the rerelease, Thrill Jockey just posted an 11-minute excerpt of Mountains performing at the Bottletree in Birmingham, AL while supporting This Will Destroy You in February earlier this year. The grainy footage sees Anderegg and Holtkamp buzzing through sonic snippets and sketches that would become Centralia, the duo’s electro-acoustic masterpiece and meditation on a failed mining town. As the set begins, light-as-air synth patches cycle through various filters, folding in and out before providing firm bedrock for the ensuing symphony. Anderegg bows his acoustic guitar for extended chordal variations before Holtkamp assumes his own acoustic guitar, methodically plucking out buried notes and aural padding. It’s a no-frills snapshot of a drone band at the height of their game. Preorder the reissue of Mountains Mountains Mountains now via Thrill Jockey.