Album Review: Mountains – Choral

Milking words out of an album such as Mountains’ Choral (CDMP3) is never easy. Ambient-leaning sounds such as these are applicable to nearly any situation the listener can dream up, and that means that it takes the dedication and imagination of the listener to complete the artistic picture. While I wouldn’t rush to the stereo to turn my friends on to this disc, I would ask that they apply their own intimate experience to it. Personally, I’ve had more fun listening to the wind chimes on my outdoor deck.

Mountains - ChoralChoral is an album of mostly hushed, droning constructions, where instruments are utilized at their most basic level – to create sounds. Melody and tunefulness are but an occasional circumstance here. The juxtaposition of an acoustic guitar-heavy song such as “Map Table” or “Telescope” after the opening sonic prairie of “Choral” clouds the artists vision. Are Mountains an experimental sound collage outfit, or a pastoral electronic folk duo, or nothing of the sort?

I’m no expert when it comes to the endless forms of ambient, atmospheric music, but I am a fan, and in my opinion, Choral lacks what any listenable album needs – some semblance of flow, and at least an inkling of revelation as to what the artist is getting at. A truly well-made album of this persuasion is normally more engaging. I simply became annoyed at the constant scatterbrained nature of it all. It’s 51 minutes of alternating focus between guitar then bells then synths then accordion then melodica then this and that. It makes my brain itch.

It’s never clear what these guys are doing, and while their sound seems to strive for the listener’s sub-conscious, their constant fiddling about and switching instruments is far from relaxing or mind-expanding. Instrumental, experimental, ambient noise albums can be as inspiring as any album with riffs and lyrics, but I found none of the above on Choral. The lack of thematic structure or any sort of resolution in these meandering songs makes this album one for only the most devoted experimental music fans.

Sample tracks for yourself at the Amazon links above!

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