MOUNTAINS: Etching (Thrill Jockey)


Posted on Oct 21st 2009 01:04 am

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Mountains: Etching

Thrill Jockey 2009
01 Tracks. 38mins14secs

Icon: arrow Amazon UK: LP Amazon US: LP Boomkat: LP

The project of New York-based Brendon Anderegg and Koen Holtkamp, Mountains have, in the four years since they first appeared, gained much critical acclaim for their impressionist sound formations. While their first two albums were published on their own imprint, Apestaartje, their third opus proper, Choral, materialised on Chicago’s Thrill Jockey. In early 2009, Mountains recorded a long improvisation in Anderegg’s studio, in live condition. The resulting piece, Etching, was then sold, as a CDR, during the tour coinciding with the release of Choral. This recording aiming to document the band in a similar setting to that of the tour, is now made available once again through Thrill Jockey as a very limited LP-only release.

Originally consisting of just one long live improvised piece, which was split into two sequences for the vinyl version, Etching is typical of the work of Brendon Anderegg and Koen Holtkamp. Built from a sound pool consisting of acoustic and electric guitars, and various other acoustic instruments and electronics, processed and treated live and assembled into an ever changing piece, Etching harks back to the band’s self-titled debut album, which consisted primarily of long compositions, often stretching well past the fifteen minute mark. Here though, the sonic progression is much more nuanced as the piece gently ebbs and flows over its all course, making the most of the time scale to emphasised the various tones and moods that are often found in their shorter tracks.

Etching opens with a gentle layering of acoustic guitars, which grows slowly as new elements are progressively swallowed to become intrinsic part of a rolling melodic formation. By the four minute mark, the nucleus of the piece has become totally smooth and uniform, allowing for shimmering electronics to ripple on its surface before settling into a second layer of sediment. From there on, this stratification process is repeated over and over until Etching reaches its first peak, ten minutes in, and is subjected to a meticulous erosion from there on as its first segment rapidly fades away. The piece quickly regains momentum though, and this time Anderegg and Holtkamp deploy an even richer set of sounds. Very much like on Choral, the original sources are pretty impossible to isolate or identify fully here, apart for the recurring textural guitar components which give Etching a superb outline, contributing to the ethereal character of the piece. Developed over just under forty minutes, its poetic meanders and evocative tones brought to life like never before, Etching is a composition without equal in Mountains’ work.


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Icon: arrow Amazon UK: LP Amazon US: LP Boomkat: LP

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One Response to “MOUNTAINS: Etching (Thrill Jockey)”

  1. […] recent Etching LP (I’ll hand you over to the Milkman for the positively glowing review) suggested that Mountains were somewhat different live to on […]