Get Lost In Mountains' New Album Centralia, Because That's the Point
Mountains songs generally have a therapeutic, generative glow that surrounds them, this gentle din of layered washes and drones that are imbued with melodies but is nonetheless so hypnotic that it's easy to just get lost in. When the two of you are writing, is that a perspective that you take into account? Or do you experience your music in a totally different way?
KH and BA: A lot of our music has been about subtle changes over long periods of time. This gradual development lends itself well to the kind of listening one can easily get lost in, but we try to include a lot of detail so even if on the surface it can seem quite simple there's always a lot going on and things are actually changing quite a bit. We use a lot of layers moving different elements in and out of the foreground.
It's when these sounds come together and react to one another that things start to get interesting. Something sounds one way alone but when you put a different tone or chord underneath it the entire melodic structure can change. We want our music to shift in a subtle way so it does become hypnotic because a lot of the shifts take along time to happen, but it's very important to us that the music is always moving and evolving.
What's the strangest or least expected response that others have had to a Mountains song or album?
KH: On three separate occasions, people have mentioned giving birth while listening to one of our albums which I think is a huge compliment, but also kind of a bizarre surprise. A couple bought a CD from us in Toulouse - I think it was a tour cdr we made at the time which ended up being released later in LP format as Etching - and explained that they wanted to have it for while the woman was in labor. A few months later, they emailed thanking us and saying that the whole process was wonderful.
This is certainly not a function I ever imagined the music having, but it's kind of amazing that some people felt like it was the soundtrack they wanted for such an intensely personal and significant moment.
I think that gives you the right to brand yourselves as "amnio-drone" or even "amnio-core." Are you fans of solo guitarists? Your approach involves a lot of layers and parts, but on this album - particularly on "Tilt" - there's a strong John Fahey/Jack Rose feel to the composition and performance that I hadn't noticed before in your work.
KH: For sure. We're huge fans of a lot of solo acoustic guitarists and have spent a good chunk of time over the years listening to LPs by Fahey as well as many other folks, such as Sandy Bull, Robbie Basho, Suni Mcgrath, and Michael Chapman.
Prior to the new record, this influence probably comes across most obviously on "Down Under The Manhattan Bridge Overpass" from Mountains, which is a long piece which revolves mainly around finger-picked acoustic guitar. The title is a personal reference but was meant to be somewhat of a nod to Fahey in the way it references place somewhat like many of his titles. I'm thinking of "The Great Santa Barbara Oil Slick" or "The Great San Bernardino Birthday Party."
What do you guys do for day jobs?
KH: We both work mostly freelance at the moment. Brendon does soundtrack work for documentaries as well as recording and post production at his studio, Telescope Recording. I worked in record stores and at a reissue label for a long time but recently have been mostly doing audio work for some film and art projects as well as selling some records and gear online.