Get Lost In Mountains' New Album Centralia, Because That's the Point

Categories: Mountains

"Live at the Triple Door"

Are Mountains albums representative of particular compositional periods, or do you guys find yourselves developing, revising, and adding to pieces for years prior to deciding that something is "complete" or finished and ready to appear on a record?KH: Generally, I think the pieces are representative of the time period in which they were made, though there are individual sounds or ways of working that end up as a jumping-off point later on. We're always trying to revise and develop our overall sound, so that involves both looking forward as well as back to elements we'd used before. With Centralia in particular we talked a lot about what we'd done previously and consciously revisited and expanded on some working methods or combinations of instruments that we'd used in the past.

Given the wide range of instruments and sound generators you use, is it difficult to answer when people ask you what your role in the band is, or "what you play?" Do either of you view your contribution to Mountains in such terms, or do you see the parts you play in a less black and white way?
KH: It's kinda unavoidable to have to break down what you do in literal terms sometimes. If someone finds out you're a musician, the natural question is what do you play. Usually if I don't know someone I'd probably say electronics, guitar and keyboards but I wouldn't really refer to myself as a "guitarist" or "keyboard player."

Perhaps because we focus on a range of instruments and ways to extend and manipulate them rather then on one specific thing, I sort of see the studio as being our main instrument. But I'm not sure that totally fits being that a large part of our focus is on performance. We've been doing this long enough that I don't really question these aspects of it much. For us, it's less about the individual ingredients and more about how they combine together and what that creates.

"Down Under The Manhattan Bridge Overpass"

"Propeller" is by far my favorite song on Centralia, and it embodies its title fully, and vice versa - just this massive, body massage hum crossed with a vague but persistent sense of helicopters, machinery, and to some extent sci-fi. It's like the beating heart of an album that feels very, very warm and welcoming. All Mountains records have that inviting dissociation vibe happening, but on this one I think you succeeded in kicking it up a few notches somehow. How was the sort of centrifugal melodic effect achieved on "Propeller"?
KH: Like most of the titles on Centralia, the title came after the track was done. It's a recording of a live performance. We basically took the beginning and end of a live set from a few months after Air Museum came out put them together and added a few little details.

"Liana," the track after "Propeller," was the middle section of the same show but we thought it worked better for the album on its own. In performance, we tend to do a lot of live sampling and layering of various instruments at different lengths so the melodies are constantly changing in the way in which they overlap with one another.

A lot of the hypnotic, cyclical quality of "Propeller" came out of this process of looping and layering different elements and then slowly shifting the mix over time to focus in on the different details within the whole.

Mountains new album Centralia is out now.

Swans' Most Terrifying Songs
On Odd Future, Rape and Murder, And Why We Sometimes Like the Things That Repel Us
How Not To Write About Female Musicians: A Handy Guide

Sponsor Content

Now Trending

From the Vault