FRACTURED AIR

The universe is making music all the time

Posts Tagged ‘Mountains

Fractured Air 15: Fiends (A Mixtape by Koen Holtkamp)

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‘Fiends’ is a mix compiled by composer and multi-instrumentalist Koen Holtkamp. As well as comprising one half of the internationally acclaimed New York-based ambient duo Mountains (Thrill Jockey), Holtkamp has also an extensive number of both solo and collaborative works —including remix work — to date (Chris Forsyth, Ben Vida, Christina Vantzou) and has appeared on numerous independent labels such as Thrill Jockey, Type, Blackest Rainbow and Barge Recordings. Koen Holtkamp’s current solo album, ‘Motion’, is available now on Thrill Jockey Records. 

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Fractured Air 15: Fiends (A Mixtape by Koen Holtkamp)

To listen on Mixcloud:
http://www.mixcloud.com/Fractured_Air/fractured-air-15-fiends-a-mixtape-by-koen-holtkamp/

“With things being so much more accessible these days it’s so easy to jump around from one thing to the next without thinking about or really listening to what you’re hearing and that can feel a little underwhelming so I’ve been trying to set aside some time to appreciate and somewhat re-evaluate a lot of work that was important to me in the past.”

—Koen Holtkamp

 

Tracklisting:

01. Golden Retriever ‘Flight Song’ – ‘Seer’ [Thrill Jockey]
02. Ben Vida ‘Tztztztzt Î Í Í… Pt. 12’ – ‘Slipping Control’ [Shelter Press]
03. Chris Forsyth ‘Absurdly Beautiful Kinetics’ – ‘Live Journal At The Mice Machine VIP Dance Floor’ [Incunabulum]
04. Mind Over Mirrors ‘Bark & Barge’ – ‘When The Rest Are Up At Four’ [Immune]
05. Mike Wexler ‘Lens’ – ‘Dispossesion’ [Mexican Summer]
06. Date Palms ‘Honey Devash’ (Excerpt) – ‘Honey Devash’ [Mexican Summer]
07. Steve Gunn & John Truscinski – ‘Takism II’ – ‘Sand City’ [Three Lobed]
08. Le Révélateur ‘View Model’ – ‘Horizon Fears’ [NNA]
09. 75 Dollar Bill ‘Water In The Lock’ – ‘Cass’ [Self]
10. Byron Westbrook ‘Broken Ellipses’ – from V/A – ‘Your Victorian Breasts’ [Three Four]
11. Queens ‘Frost Flowers’ – ‘End Times’ [Dial]
12. Duane Pitre ‘Feel Free Section 5’ – ‘Feel Free’ [Important]

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‘Motion’ is available now on Thrill Jockey.

Our interview with Koen Holtkamp HERE.

http://www.thrilljockey.com
https://www.facebook.com/koenholtkamp

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To follow Fractured Air you can do so on Facebook HERE, & Twitter HERE.

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Written by admin

May 21, 2014 at 11:35 am

Chosen One: Koen Holtkamp

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Interview with Koen Holtkamp.

“With things being so much more accessible these days it’s so easy to jump around from one thing to the next without thinking about or really listening to what you’re hearing and that can feel a little underwhelming…”

—Koen Holtkamp

Words & Illustration: Craig Carry

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The Brooklyn-based sound artist and composer Koen Holtkamp (also one half of the renowned ambient duo Mountains) releases his latest solo album, ‘Motion’, this month via Chicago/London-based independent label Thrill Jockey. Having previously been devoted to the field of film and video — during his time studying at The Art Institute of Chicago (during the period he also co-founded the Apestaartje collective/label) — Holtkamp entered music relatively late. Over the course of the last decade or so, Holtkamp has released a number of solo and collaborative works — spanning numerous labels such as Type, Barge Recordings and Thrill Jockey — featuring an array of abstract, textured and highly nuanced sonic works recalling such composers as Brian Eno or Laurie Spiegel to modern-day composers such as The Dead Texan, Stars Of The Lid or Sweden’s Tape. Meanwhile, Holtkamp (alongside Brendon Anderegg) has also been busy amassing a truly spellbinding body of work via their Mountains guise over the last decade. Last year saw the release of both the latest Mountains long player ‘Centralia’ and the re-issue of ‘Mountains Mountains Mountains’, Holtkamp and Anderegg’s debut Mountains work, having originally seen a limited release by Rob Carmichael’s experimental Catsup Plate label in 2008.

Fresh from last year’s sublime Mountains full length ‘Centralia’ — arguably Mountains’ most fully realized album yet — and subsequent extensive tours of both America and Europe, Holtkamp decided to take six months off-time to write and record various projects including a new duo record with Philadelphia based guitarist Chris Forsyth (their previous record, ‘Early Astral’, was a gorgeous two-track length opus released by Blackest Rainbow in 2012) as well as a brand new solo work. To coincide with the release of ‘Motion’, Thrill Jockey will issue ‘Connected Works’ (as a special bonus disc to ‘Motion’) which features a compilation of Holtkamp’s entire vinyl-only releases to date including ‘Liquid Light Forms’ (Barge, 2013), ‘Gravity/Bees’ (Thrill Jockey 2010), and ‘Make Haste’ (A Room Forever, 2008).

‘Motion’ comprises ‘Between Visible Things’, ‘Vert’ and ‘Crotales’ (all three pieces were written by Holtkamp entirely in the studio) while the album’s b-side comprises the epic ‘Endlessness’, a piece Holtkamp had been performing live prior to the making of ‘Motion’. ‘Between Visible Things’ forms the perfect opening to ‘Motion’, its analog synthesizers weaving beautifully organic and soft-focus spaces which provide the backdrop for the subsequent sharp-focus synth line which navigates into the track two-and-a-half minutes into proceedings. ‘Vert’ is again testament to Holtkamp’s self-professed admiration for “gradual music”; the first minute builds slowly until the use of an electric guitar is introduced to stirring effect, its harsh and aggressive notes forming the perfect counterpoint to the swirling organic synthesizer patterns in its midst. ‘Crotales’ is a gorgeous five-minute modern-day exploration of Seventies Soul Jazz (Alice Coltrane or Pharaoh Sanders come to mind) through the lens of Holtkamp’s distinctly contemporary approach to music-making. Both double-bass and crotales add both otherworldly rhythms and percussion to proceedings while the piece meanders to its soft close, almost in quiet anticipation of what is to follow: the majestic ‘Endlessness’; a sprawling and timeless side-length exploration of everything we’ve come to love about Holtkamp’s musical output to date.

Both Holtkamp and Anderegg — as Mountains — have similarly shown their mastery in the long-form medium of epic ten-minute-plus sound pieces (‘Propeller’, taken from ‘Centralia’, ‘Choral’s 2008 title-track or debut LP opener ‘The Whale Years’, for instance). It’s where the art of Holtkamp (and Mountains) can be set apart from the competition. ‘Endlessness’ recalls the likes of Berlin-based composer Nils Frahm’s ‘Says’ from last year’s ‘Spaces’ to Krautrock artists such as Cluster, Faust or Can. In short, it is the kind of music that has to be experienced to be believed. While the recording of the album’s opening three tracks entirely in the studio was a departure for Holtkamp’s usual practice — resisting the temptation to add pre-recorded rehearsal sessions or field sample recordings from his extensive library — crucially, the particular sensual and engaging quality inherent in all of Holtkamp’s recorded output to date remains firmly intact. The music, while often composed of entirely synthetic means, always remains vividly (and beautifully) wild at heart.

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‘Motion’ is available now on Thrill Jockey.

http://www.thrilljockey.com
https://www.facebook.com/koenholtkamp

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Interview with Koen Holtkamp.

Congratulations, Koen, on the magnificent achievement of your solo album ‘Motion’. I’ve been really transfixed by it since first listening to it, and it continues to reveal so much upon every subsequent visit. What I’d like to ask, first off, is what was the time frame in which these songs originated from?

KH: Thanks! The album was mostly written and recorded late spring into summer 2013 but I’d been playing a version of the last piece ‘Endlessness’ live for about a year or so that was already most of the way there.

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I was really interested to read that the first three tracks — prior to closing epic masterclass ‘Endlessness’ — were written entirely in the studio. They have a gorgeously refined and more “electronic” feel than your previous material. I know the last time we spoke you explained how Mountains material would often be a combination of recorded practice sessions, various improvisations or found sound recordings, and subsequently the pieces would be later realized from this source material. How did the realization of these first three pieces from ‘Motion’ happen?

KH: I tend to gravitate towards creating long and gradually evolving pieces somewhat because they’re usually based around things that I’ve performed live. So when I started conceiving this record I thought I’d try something different by making some shorter compositions that weren’t created with performance in mind so didn’t have certain restrictions inherent in that process. In terms of them being more purely “electronic” I think that’s happened naturally as I’ve gotten more deeply involved with modular synthesis. Also, I wanted to somewhat separate the solo work from Mountains to some extent.

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Previously, you have described your music (and that of Mountains) as gradual music. There is such a magical quality found in the more epic pieces (whether tracks like ‘Propeller’ from Mountains’ ‘Centralia’ or ‘Endlessness’ from ‘Motion’). It’s really so special in the sense that the listening experience is so genuinely enriching and compelling throughout every moment of these pieces. Do you consciously approach these longer pieces differently from other material? Or, indeed, would you – in the writing process – break them up into smaller pieces while you are in the process of building the track?

KH: The lengthy pieces generally come out of the live experience so are more intuitive and composed to develop over a longer period of time. It’s my natural tendency to work this way and let things unfold slowly so I’m actually more conscious when I’m trying to make something shorter. It’s much more difficult for me to make a 5 minute piece than something that’s 20 minutes.

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‘Between Visible Things’ is such a tremendous opener for an album, it brings you into the world of ‘Motion’ so beautifully and effortlessly. I love that synth-y passage which flows throughout the piece. I would love to gain an insight into how this piece was constructed and what principle techniques were used?

KH: ‘Between Visible Things’ was the most immediate of all the tracks on the record in that it was all recorded in one night by myself in upstate, NY. Basically it started from a basic sample and hold patch that creates the shifting sequential pattern that comes in about a 3rd of the way in. Then I layered a sporadic sputtery rhythm from a low pass gate sequence, some ebow guitar throw a stereo panning delay and a few very fast filtered sequences that became the more textural “synth-y” introduction to piece. There was also some Tequila involved.

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‘Crotales’ is equally sublime. That double-bass sound calls to mind the likes of Alice Coltrane or Pharaoh Sanders and then the analog synths combine to form a really spellbinding effect. Like all Mountains’ output, the material is always so highly evocative — even in its more abstract spaces — and the overall impact is always so visceral and tangible. How did ‘Croatales’ come about?

KH: ‘Crotales’ was a last-minute replacement track. I was having issues with the sound quality of another piece that I’d been working on for a while. It just really wasn’t working in the context of the record so I decided to take a wholly different approach. I’ve avoided virtual instruments for the most part in the past but I wanted to give the album a wider dynamic range and since these pieces were not conceived for performance I figured why limit myself. I got sort of fascinated with the combination of synthetic and real instrumentation in the process which I’m continuing to explore with the new live set. While some of the ‘instruments’ such as the double-bass and crotales, for example, were created synthetically I did play all the parts on a keyboard in real-time to try and create the feeling of a performance rather than working with some sort of locked grid. And, yes, I was definitely thinking about those 70’s Alice Coltrane and Sanders jams with the bass sound.

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Since the last time we spoke, you also re-issued Mountains’ debut LP ‘Mountains Mountains Mountains’. I love how it really gives Mountains fans a wonderful insight into your unique sound and what would inform subsequent work. I particularly find ‘Hive’ so interesting, there’s that combination of an acoustic passage (reminds me of Benoît Pioulard’s ‘Precis’ LP) and the later distorted passage involving what sounds like distorted feedback or a fuzzy transmission.

KH: It’s basically a slow transition from a clean acoustic guitar into heavy distortion which is still the same acoustic guitar played live but with the processing added over time. We were using more classic distortion and getting away from computers while previously we worked more with granular synthesis in max/msp to get that grainy type of texture.

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It must have been a special feeling for both Brendan and yourself to have the opportunity to re-issue your first LP? What are your recollections of the time in which this material was written?

KH: The record was released after (and some of it was recorded during) our first ever and longest US tour. We did something like 26 dates in 30 days and we booked everything ourselves. We had no idea what we were really getting into and while that didn’t always make it easy it was really exciting for us to get the chance to bring our music to a wide range of people. It was an extremely varied experience in terms of the situations we ended up in and the people we performed with and met. From playing with a bunch of hardcore bands at a house party to academic types in art galleries and universities and rock bands in bars we learned a ton from having to adapt to these different types of situations. We’d played some shows on the East Coast and in Europe prior to this and quite a lot of shows since then but to me this represents the beginning of us being a touring band.

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I also love the typographic cover for the sleeve, how did this come about?

KH: After working with photographs for our previous CD releases, we decided to do something bold and graphic for our first LP. We wanted to get friends who had been supportive over the years involved in the process of making the cover art and came up with the idea of having multiple people write the word “Mountains”. We asked a bunch of folks to just write the word with very little instruction other than it was all done with the same pen for some continuity and made some sign up sheets at our shows and a couple of record stores in New York which yielded a good variety of approaches. While it’s the same word over and over it’s the variance in style and handwriting that makes each one personal and interesting. Rob from Catsup Plate who originally put out the album scanned all the versions and did a really beautiful job on the layout. Check out his designs at Seen.

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What will really appeal to fans of your work is ‘Connected Works’, a second bonus CD which will be issued by Thrill Jockey with their release of ‘Motion’, including the many hard-to-find works of yours from the last 5 years or so. What material is included here?

KH: ‘Connected Works’ includes the new album, the ‘Liquid Light Forms’ LP that came out on Barge Recordings in 2013, the ‘Gravity/Bees’ LP released by Thrill Jockey in 2010, and the ‘Make Haste / Free Birds’ box LP that was part of the ‘A Room Forever’ series on 2008. It covers quite a few years and includes over 2 hours of music.

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I know you’re such huge collector of many different periods and genres of music, I’d love to know what albums you have been listening to lately?

KH: I’ve really been enjoying going back to some old favorites and completely immersing myself in one artists or a particular labels work. Listening to a bunch of records in a row by the same artist really gives you a different kind of understanding of their work, progression etc. It takes a little dedication but I’m trying to make a conscious effort to do it more often. Some recent composers and songwriters that I’ve been spending some time with include Alvin Lucier, Bernard Parmegiani, Steve Reich, Bert Jansch, Tim Buckley, The Necks, Franco Battiato, John Fahey etc. With things being so much more accessible these days it’s so easy to jump around from one thing to the next without thinking about or really listening to what you’re hearing and that can feel a little underwhelming so I’ve been trying to set aside some time to appreciate and somewhat re-evaluate a lot of work that was important to me in the past.

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I remember you talked really admiringly about Laurie Spiegel’s ‘The Expanding Universe’ last year. It’s obviously a very special album for you. How would you describe it’s enduring appeal for you as a musician and composer?

KH: It’s difficult to describe but there’s something about a piece of music that is clearly being generated by a machine but feels so natural almost as if it could go on forever. Like listening to something physically evolve and adapt as it grows. I don’t mean this in a passive background music sense as I find Spiegel’s work and this record in particular extremely engaging. It’s the kind of work I can become completely immersed with and lose myself in.

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What plans have you for the year ahead, Koen?

KH: I took about a half a year off from performance to focus on recording and developing a new modular set up so I’m very much looking forward to playing a bunch of shows coming up. I’m also doing a couple of video screenings of my work in the near future as well as getting into some new collaborations and we’re starting to make some plans to work on a new Mountains record in the next couple months so it should be a busy year.

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‘Motion’ is available now on Thrill Jockey.

http://www.thrilljockey.com
https://www.facebook.com/koenholtkamp

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Written by admin

March 25, 2014 at 12:17 pm

Chosen One: Mountains

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Interview with Koen Holtkamp, Mountains.

“I see collecting instruments somewhat in the same regard as collecting sounds for a piece. I started out experimenting with radios, computers, electronics etc and was just particularly taken with the richness and intimacy of acoustic instruments so initially I came at it from a sonic perspective.”

—Koen Holtkamp, Mountains

Words: Mark & Craig Carry, Illustration: Craig Carry

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Mountains comprise of the duo Koen Holtkamp and Brendon Anderegg. Based in Brooklyn, the pair have been responsible for some of independent music’s most treasured music over the last decade or so. This year marks the release of ‘Centralia’ (on the Chicago-based Thrill Jockey label), the band’s fifth album and follow-up to 2011’s ‘Air Museum.’

As we’ve come to expect from Mountains, the music on ‘Centralia’ is spellbinding; wonderfully crafted sonic textures effortlessly fuse together to create an otherworldly sound. ‘Centralia’ itself is named from the town of Centralia in Pennsylvania, which was the site of a tragic mine fire in 1962, which lead to the town’s abandonment. Ghosts of Centralia can be heard throughout the LP, where ambient drone passages and nuanced textural details (such as a softly strummed acoustic guitar, an uplifting cello, or a melodica) create a magical atmosphere – sometimes haunting, other times truly uplifting – but always utterly compelling and imaginative.

‘Sand’ opens the album and sets the tone for what’s to come perfectly. This gorgeous piece begins with a drone intro where gradual layers of manipulated sounds overlay together to create an expansive, vast soundscape. The piece echoes Stars of the Lid, where it feels as if no mere mortal could create such beauty. There is also a wonderful balance of contrast on the piece, there is always sufficient amounts of light and dark present in a Mountains composition. One of my personal highlights of any Mountains album comes in the passage beginning at the eight minute mark of ‘Sand’. Here we are immersed in a drone passage, gradually getting denser in texture while achieving quite an ominous and foreboding mood. Then, as if a ray of light has shone forth on proceedings, a magical cello line drifts in, beautifully shifting the composition to its glorious conclusion at the ten-minute mark.

Of course, instrumentation is also a key part of the Mountains oeuvre, the pair never rely solely on what technology can bring to proceedings. The range of instruments used by Holtkamp and Anderegg serves to add a myriad of tones and textures to their palette. It’s clear that the pair soak up influences from everywhere, not simply in the drone/ambient sphere but also in classical realms and folk music traditions. Like Mountains’s classic “Choral” (Thrill Jockey, 2009) the pair have the exquisite ability and musical understanding to know exactly what arrangements to call for and when exactly to adopt a particular instrument. Take, for example, the second piece ‘Identical Ship’ a beautiful folk-inspired acoustic guitar-led composition where piano notes are added to the arrangement to mesmerizing effect. It recalls, for me, the “magic” of seeing Warren Ellis play piano live last year with The Dirty Three, his piano notes rising from the depths of Turner and White’s blissful noise.

Mountains are not only real artists (their artistry is apparent across any of their records) but also master craftsmen. Holtkamp and Anderegg recorded Centralia (mostly at Telescope Recording in Brooklyn) as well as completing editing and mixing duties. No stone is left unturned. In a similar painstaking fashion to the recorded output of Jason Pierce’s Spiritualized, we can immediately ‘hear’ the sheer work and attention to detail at all times in the finished compositions. A true labour of love from start to finish.

‘Circular C’ demonstrates wonderfully how Mountains can combine both organic and synthetic sounds so seamlessly. Yet the effect that’s created is wholly natural: It feels like we’re atop wide open, boundless plains, savouring everything nature can show us. The ten minutes therein is simply life-affirming. The six-minute acoustic guitar-led ‘Tilt’ is sequenced halfway and is – like everything else – perfectly sequenced. The song is more sparse than other pieces, and the guitar work recalls such luminaries as William Tyler (particularly his ‘Behold The Spirit’ album). Subtlety is also paramount. The field recordings, piano and the digitally altered sounds all add to the piece greatly, yet never threaten to override the flow of the piece or detract from the divine acoustic guitar playing. An ebbing tide recording comprises the outro of ‘Tilt’, the ebb and flow majestically reinforcing the true beauty inherent in the music of Mountains.

Post ‘Tilt’ feels as if we’re onto side two of ‘Centralia’, as more abstract and ambient-minded compositions take hold of the senses from now on. ‘Propeller’ takes its cue from more classical/ambient spheres. The piece is as breathtaking as Steve Reich’s ‘Phases’, as the track seems to create a life of its own; It’s twenty-minute mastery is worth the price of the album on its own. Both ‘Liana’ and ‘Living Lens’ are equally compelling (the keys on the former creates a surreal dream-like passage; the latter echoes the film score works of Cave & Ellis) and confirms (as if anyone needed confirmation in the first place) Mountains as independent music’s most beloved and cherished of acts making music today.

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‘Centralia’ is out now on Thrill Jockey. 

Mountains play The Black Mariah, Triskel, Cork on 8 May, tickets €12/10 are available from Plugd Records and Triskel, Cork.  (Facebook Event page here)

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Interview with Koen Holtkamp, Mountains.

The title for ‘Centralia’ is a reference to Centralia, Pennsylvania, the site of a mine fire in 1962, which lead to the town’s abandonment. Can you please discuss the inspiration that the town of Centralia had on your ‘Centralia’ record?

It’s actually not meant to be a direct reference to the town in Pennsylvania though we were aware that some people would probably make that connection. There are quite a few towns in the US with the name Centralia one of which we came across while on tour on the West Coast and the name kind of stuck with us. As we were working on the record we started to think of it as somewhat of a culmination of everything we’d done in the past so Centralia as a central location or middle ground made sense. On one level there’s this more literal connection but we also thought of it worked nicely as an imaginary location for the music to come from.

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From the gorgeous opener ‘Sand’ onwards, ‘Centralia’ really seems a culmination of all previous Mountains records. I didn’t think it would ever be possible to better “Choral” but you’ve done it already with “Centralia”, a truly life-affirming record. What kind of a record were you both hoping to create with ‘Centralia?’ For you both, how is this record a departure?

Thanks! With this album we were really trying to make something dynamic that was a combination of all the different approaches that we’d used in the past while still trying to move forward and develop some new ideas and approaches at the same time. I think this approach was able to develop fairly naturally because we decided to take our time with the record allowing for more experimentation in the studio and letting things find their place versus having a preconceived notion of what we wanted to do beforehand.

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I am always struck by the sheer range of instruments Mountains will use in their arrangements – creating such a magnificent spectrum of sounds – acoustic guitars, melodica, accordion, bells, cello, field recordings and so much more. When did you begin “collecting” musical instruments? What are your most-prized possessions? Anything on your wish list you are yet to find?

I see collecting instruments somewhat in the same regard as collecting sounds for a piece. I started out experimenting with radios, computers, electronics etc and was just particularly taken with the richness and intimacy of acoustic instruments so initially I came at it from a sonic perspective rather than as a ‘guitarist’ for example. This was about thirteen years or so ago so I guess we’ve been putting together a small collection of sound making devices for quite awhile. As far as favorites go at the moment I would probably have to say my harmonium as it’s the instrument I can most easily get lost in and my modular synthesizer as I’ve spent the last few years researching and slowly amassing a very personalized group of modules that I put a lot of thought and time into so it’s very much specifically tailored to my own approach.

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In terms of organic and synthetic sounds, Mountains seem to really wholeheartedly embrace both worlds of sounds. Yet the Mountains “sound” is always so organic and real. What are your thoughts on music and technology, its impact and advancements it has had on you both?

While we use some modern technology we’re predominantly interested in it for it’s sound making possibilities rather than any sort of overtly technological concept or approach. We are naturally drawn to the richness of acoustic instrumentation but also utilize electronics both as a compliment and extension of what an acoustic instrument can do. Processing instruments allows for a greater range of sounds and can also blur the lines between whats coming from a resonating object (instrument) for example and what’s coming from a machine (electronics). We’ve been fascinated by this combination since the beginning and it continues to be a theme.

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Regarding the decision-making process for what constitutes the final cut of a Mountains record; Is there a specific plan you both will agree on from the outset (do you discuss the particular themes, arrangements or avenues beforehand, prior to the recording of material), or is it very much a case of sitting down and letting the music do the talking and taking it from there?

It’s a little of both. We often have preconceived ideas of an approach or melody but these things can mutate and change quite a bit during the process. We also record most of our practices and quite a few improvisations so we generally have a good number of recordings to work with prior to the point when we decide to start formulating the material into tracks for an album. Usually things become clearer with the individual pieces when we start to put them next to each other and think about the larger relationships of how they relate to one another in the context of an album and this is generally where we start to really get into the specifics.

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It’s interesting because on hearing about the inspiration from the Centralia mine fire in Pennsylvania, I immediately thought of Bill Morrison’s ‘The Miner Hymns’ film and its accompanying score by Jóhann Jóhannsson where the music matches the poetic beauty inherent in the film footage. Apologies if this question may be a little “lazy”, but I would love to hear whether there are filmmakers you both would love to collaborate with? Or, indeed which filmmakers and films that you admire? (As a Mountains fan, there seems to be a magical kinship in your patient, intricate and heavenly music with that of Terrence Malick for instance).

A Terrence Malick film would certainly be amazing. An obvious choice perhaps, but getting to work on a Werner Herzog project would be a dream. In terms of younger director/filmmakers I really enjoyed the pacing and acting in Jeff Nichols first two films and Paul Clipson’s Super 8 work is exceptionally beautiful. Working on something that was on the more narrative side could be an interesting challenge being that what we do is somewhat abstract.

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It must be very enriching and proud being responsible for such a significant body of work you have both created over the last decade, creating such divine music which really impacts on the lives of your listeners and fans. It must also be enriching considering the other artists you have a kinship with (Stars of the lid, a winged victory for the sullen, Tape on the Hapna label, Gentleman Losers, to name a few). Are there bands you’d love to collaborate with? Which bands/artists do you admire making music today?

We’ve toured with Tape a few times, they’re wonderful people and I have a lot of respect for their music. As far as collaborations go generally I prefer to work with friends or people I have some connection to outside of just the fact that we both make somewhat similar music. I’m looking forward to making another duo record with Philadelphia based guitarist Chris Forsyth when we get back from tour and have a few other collaborative things in the works. We’ve talked about doing an album with ‘guests’ but we’re so particular I think Mountains will predominantly just be us.

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Often, on listening to your music, I feel there must be a world of influences you guys must soak up all the time. Everything from ambient and electronic music to classical and folk and all points in between. There must be an unbelievable record collection at Mountains HQ! What bands would you both consider the most influential and inspirational for you both? I would love if you could give a list of albums that you both hold close to your hearts and you find yourselves coming back to again and again?

Perhaps it’s easier to list a few artists/genres vs albums. In no particular order Charlemagne Palestine, Microstoria, Terry Riley, John Fahey, Don Cherry, Henry Flynt, Early Music, Franco Battiato, Heldon, Popul Vuh, Gastr Del Sol, Roberto Capagglia, Richard Youngs, Indian classical music, North African music, Gavin Bryars, Giancarlo Scelsi, The Art Ensemble Of Chicago, Stephan Mathieu, David Behrman, Alvin Lucier, Canned Heat, Pandit Pran Nath, Luc Ferrari, Keith Hudson, Steve Lacy, Alvin Curran, Howlin Wolf, Luciano Cilio, Oren Ambarchi, Suni Mcgrath, Nuno Caravaro, Ornette Coleman, Neil Young, Mighty Baby, Jimi Hendrix, Bernard Parmegiani, Roscoe Holcomb, Mantronix, Hamza El Din, Catherine Ribeiro + Alpes, Roy Harper, Francis Bebey, Bill Fay, Laurie Spiegel etc etc etc

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The wonderful photographer Alec Soth has often talked about how an artist – no matter how diverse or innovative their work – is often “condensed” to one sentence which is ultimately what they will be remembered for (“the shorthand summation everyone uses to describe a particular person.”) Sorry for the difficult task but I would be curious to hear how you would describe the music of Mountains; what would this “sentence” be? What thread binds the music of Mountains?

I don’t really feel right in summarizing what we do in a one liner but I’ll try in two words. Gradual music. While we certainly don’t adhere to every aspect of it’s concept I appreciate Steve Reich’s approach in his essay ‘Music as a Gradual Process’.

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What’s been on your reading list lately for you both?

I tend to read a few things at once. Currently Herzog’s ‘Conquest of The Useless’ Neil Young’s ‘Waging Heavy Peace’ and Dub : Soundscapes and Songs in Jamaican Reggae. Also just picked up Raymond Chandlers ‘The Long Goodbye’ for the upcoming tour.

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Mountains play The Black Mariah, Triskel, Cork on 8 May, tickets €12/10 are available from Plugd Records and Triskel, Cork.  (Facebook Event page here)

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http://www.thrilljockey.com/thrill/Mountains
http://www.myspace.com/apestaartjemountains
https://soundcloud.com/thrilljockey

Written by admin

April 18, 2013 at 2:06 pm

Something’s Going On: Mountains

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We’re delighted to be co-presenting (with Plugd Records) Thrill Jockey’s finest Mountains who will perform at The Black Mariah, Triskel Arts Centre, Cork on May 8th. The duo’s current album, the sublime ‘Centralia’ is out now on Thrill Jockey. 

Illustration: Craig Carry

mountains_poster

 

Mountains comprise the duo of Koen Holtkamp and Brendon Anderegg. Based in Brooklyn, the pair have been responsible for some of independent music’s most treasured music over the last decade or so. This year marks the release of ‘Centralia’ (on the Chicago-based Thrill Jockey label), the band’s fifth album and follow-up to 2011’s ‘Air Museum.’ I never thought the band could possibly improve upon their masterpiece ‘Choral’ (Thrill Jockey, 2009) but Holtkamp and Anderegg have somehow managed to do just that with ‘Centralia.’

As we’ve come to expect from Mountains, the music on ‘Centralia’ is spellbinding; wonderfully crafted sonic textures effortlessly fuse together to create an otherworldly sound. ‘Centralia’ itself is named from the town of Centralia in Pennsylvania, which was the site of a tragic mine fire in 1962, which lead to the town’s abandonment. Ghosts of Centralia can be heard throughout the LP, where ambient drone passages and nuanced textural details (such as a softly strummed acoustic guitar, an uplifting cello, or a melodica) create a magical atmosphere – sometimes haunting, other times truly uplifting – but always utterly compelling and imaginative.

An interview with Mountains will be published shortly. ‘Centralia’ – as well as the Mountains back catalogue –  is available to purchase at Plugd Records, Triskel Arts Centre, Cork.

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Mountains (plus guests) perform at The Black Mariah (Floor 2, Triskel, Tobin St, Cork) on Wed. May 8th. Tickets are €12/10 concessions.

‘Centralia’ by Mountains is out now on Thrill Jockey.

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For more information on Mountains:

http://www.thrilljockey.com/thrill/Mountains/
http://www.thrilljockey.com/

Written by admin

March 30, 2013 at 7:54 pm