Transcendent Music: Mountains – “Centralia”

As Blurt so aptly states, “Mountains composes the soundtrack to dreams you didn’t know you had.”

(via Thrill Jockey)

The longstanding duo of Koen Holtkamp and Brendon Anderegg have just blessed us with a new record! The album’s title “Centralia” shares its name with a long-abandoned Pennsylvania mining town that’s now home only to a subterranean fire that spread via a large coal vein and still burns to this day, 47 years later (!)  The music does envelop the listener in warmth, but the feeling is pretty much the opposite of a toxic hellfire panic, more like burrowing under a chenille blanket with your beloved. This is constellation-gazing music, an eardrum massage. There’s a little Riley, a little Chasny, a nod to the almighty Eno, but the sounds emerge as theirs alone, the triumphant culmination of a body of work that’s a half-dozen albums deep.

(from their equally hypnotic Dublab Sprout Session)

 For more insight into the album’s creation, here’s the official word via their record label:

Holtkamp and Anderegg approached the album layer by layer, throughout much of the record combining purely-acoustic recordings with purely-electronic sounds rather than using electronics to manipulate acoustic source material. Guitar, cello, organs, electric piano, and more are seamlessly combined with modular electronics, synthesizers and other sound sources. The result is a fully engrossing listen, always shifting focus between acoustic instruments, processed instruments and electronic sound. Mountains are utterly singular in their ability to combine such varied and complex sources into such delicately detailed songs of perceived simple pastoral ambience.

Let’s not get too caught up in the process, though. Pitchfork offers some sage advice:

The technical details aren’t too important; to pick apart who did what and where would cause Centralia to lose some of its magic. Instead, it’s better to just fall into it, letting it wash over you again and again.

(“Living Lens” video by the band’s own Koen Holtkamp)

Released barely 2 weeks ago, it soon ascended to the coveted space atop my digital pile. I’ve already used in in yoga class, and had more than one student ask me afterward, “What WAS that?”, clearly entranced. It is also, incidentally, excellent makeout music.

Sample the sounds on iTunes or better yet, experience their live show and pick up an album from the source.