By which I mean: I loved Mountains' first record
a lot, emailed apestaartje
, their record label and asked for a copy of their second album, Sewn
, and they kindly sent me a copy (and if Sewn
is any indication their albums are packaged just as gorgeously as they sound). But after making the request I was informed that Ryan Potts (who reviewed the debut for us, and in his usual graceful fashion) was reviewing Sewn
and so I felt guilty, and if anything I liked it even better than Mountains
and so feel the need to mention it here.
The label site puts it fairly well, especially considering I agree with all the superlatives: Recorded over several lengthy excursions outside the confines of the city in upstate New York and Connecticut,
Sewn invokes a sense of ease and delicate precision. A beautiful combination of clean crisp texture and warm pulsating harmony that shows a group developing and expanding their sound with an extreme attention to detail that reflects new layers in each melody and texture. Eight tracks that combine acoustic instrumentation (guitar, piano, accordion, harmonica etc.), binaural field recordings and resonant electronic processing to create a wide range of electro-acoustic experience. From the folkish acoustic guitar of "Sewn Two" and "Bay" to the densely layered organic din of "Hundred Acre" and the psychedelic minimalism of "Sheets",
Sewn shows a group as equally invested in melody as it is in experimentation.
It's the kind of music that when listened to seems more natural than not; unlike pretty much everything else I don't hit pause on Mountains when something disruptive occurs, because it seems like the sort of thing not amenable to alteration from human effort (if that makes any sense); of course on some level this is a ridiculous impression to have since Mountains' music is
human effort, but their flawless use of field recordings along with the unhurried, elemental nature of their playing and production make for a convincing impersonation. On the one hand I'm tempted to take it camping, on the other I'm not sure I don't need it more here, indoors, to remind me of what it's like outside when it's icy and white rather than wet and green outside. Rain soaked and subtley meditative, Sewn
is in all probability the best record I'll hear all year that fits under the category of "ambient", no matter how widely you stretch that genre definition.
If I had the web space I would absolutely throw up the twelve-minute "Hundred Acre" for demonstrative purposes, but lacking that if you go to apestaartje's releases page you can hear the brief "Sewn Two" (and it is kind of nice that after the hour long, four track Mountains
, this album is shorter and less monolithic, albeit just as beautiful). You do need a wholly different kind of listening to hear Mountains than you need for most of the stuff I listen to, but its beauty makes it more than worth it. I'd keep going, but I'm perilously close to babble as it is.