With the release of Choral, Brooklyn’s ambient duo Mountains had snooty critics cross-referencing soundalikes as if playing a game of “Can You Find a More Obscure Reference Than…?” The record was softly-composed ambient music, purely pieced together by Brendon Anderegg and Koen Holtkamp, and it existed in a space all its own.
Happily, the brand of soft, delicate, organic atmosphere fans have come to know from Mountains is in full bloom on Choral’s “follow-up”, Etching, as well.
Now, this is an interesting piece of music for a number of reasons.
For starters, Etching is comprised of one 38-minute track. The supple, billowing sound was recorded in one take at Anderegg’s studio. In that respect, it’s kind of a live performance. The recording was done in real-time without the use of overdubs, creating a sense of risk that lies gently underneath the hazy arrangement.
Second, as Etching was recorded prior to Mountains heading out on tour in support of Choral, the record was packaged up as a CD-R and sold to concertgoers with special hand-stamped sleeves. In other words, getting your hands on an actual CD-R of this is going to be tough stuff unless you’ve been to the show and picked one up already or if you know how to rock the eBay.
Of course, if you have one of those old-fashioned record players, you may be in luck. Etching is set for a vinyl release on October 20, 2009. For the vinyl release, Mountains re-sequenced the original CD-R recordings and, naturally, packaged the records with a hand-stamped LP jacket and a coupon for the MP3 download of the piece.
Audiophiles and fans of deep listening music will marvel at what’s going on here. Etching is, on its surface, a long piece of fulfilling tone that probably shouldn’t be the soundtrack for a road-trip with buddies to Vegas. It is, however, a quietly affecting piece that floats with weightlessness, brilliance and strange beauty.
Anderegg and Holtkamp push the stream of glowing, fond ambience as far as it will go. “Notes” hold for ages, but the wave of pleasing resonance is so warm and delightful that it’s hard to notice the passage of time.
For those with an interesting in music of the deep listening variety, Mountains will more than fit the bill. Between this single piece and Choral, theirs is an ultimately rewarding trail that should be taken and enjoyed by the patient, discriminating listener.