The duo known as Mountains is not glitzy and glamorous. They do not create complex stage sets like Nine Inch Nails and they do not post animal rights activism essays in their CD booklets like Moby. They simply appear to exist. However, Choral, the third album by the renowned atmospheric audiophiles Brendon Anderegg and Koen Holtkamp brings new meaning to the word “dreamy.” After recently signing with their new label Thrill Jockey, the two, under the pseudonym Mountains, released the six song album for us joyous masses to interpret whatever way we choose – and that is truly the gist of a record like this.
Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder, and instrumental structures from any genre can be digested in a multitude of fashions. Whether you sit and stare at your ceiling and watch fan blades orbit around dead bulbs or if you just lay asleep with headphones on, you’re looking to feel the music. Some might use drugs to enhance these effects, but that is fodder for another trough altogether.
On the titular opening track of Choral, the monotony of synth and strings aren’t too thrilling to the senses. In fact, they feel a bit stagnant and almost dull. Luckily, they also feel warm, as if there’s a warm digital blanket being pulled over you. To some it might be a mantra you hum to yourself in meditation. On other tracks like “Telescope”, you can really grasp the title of the song, picturing an array of colorful stars on an autumn evening, all over light guitar strumming and whispering atmospheres of sound accompaniment.
If one were to describe tracks such as “Add Infinity” or “Map Table”, the word play for a name like Choral would suffice. They both come off as either the background music for an oceanographer’s journey to the Great Barrier Reef, or perhaps for someone on the beachfront, watching the tide come in and out as the sun begins to set.
Anderegg and Holtkamp have been compared to musicians like Brian Eno numerous times. However, they are of their own unique landscape; a world where the fantastic and mundane can both be amazing. Choral is akin to that seashell you find on Emerald Isle when you visit the ocean your first time. While the single shell does not encompass the entire shoreline’s beauty, you keep it as a memento or a reminder that there are truly places this awe-inspiring right at the fingertips of your memory.