Speck Mountain – Some Sweet Relief

Speck Mountain - Some Sweet Relief

Speck Mountain - Some Sweet Relief

What exactly is “ambient soul”? Genres are ever-diversifying and ever-growing that it’s become such an arduous task to remember them all. And that doesn’t even refer to the complicatedness that comes along with properly tagging a particular band/album. Speck Mountain have made a solid name for themselves and although their music breathes everything of shoegaze, dream pop, sadcore, et al., they have peculiarly branded their music as the aforementioned, ambient soul.

Through every shifting aspect of their music, the two constants of Speck Mountain have always remained Karl Briedrick and Marie-Claire Balabanian’s undeniable chemistry as a duo. The two share bonding stories and experiences that are expressed into their music with seamless fashion. The resolved demeanor, the gentle tranquility of tenderness, the airy method of composition; it’s with these anticipated and almost, natural routines that the two have delivered their strongest effort to date, Some Sweet Relief.

“Angela” is possessed with a rumbling amount of bass and electric guitar that could fool anyone into thinking that this is a Sade ensemble. The song is built around a common theme of repetitions, almost chant-like, of the song’s title and the subtle hi-hat and snare tap make for a luxurious listen. Here is where those hints of “soul” come from because this is without a doubt groovy, smooth and placid music.

With a dash of Beach House and Mazzy Star for good measure, songs like “Twinlines” and “I Feel Eternal” bubble with a velvety charm of complacent guitar gloss and dream pop. One of the strongest influences seems to be Chan Marshall, at her most relaxed and vegetated state. Balabanian’s voice is steady and serene and Briedrick accompanies her with arrangements that never feel stuffy but instead, open and varied. The latter features a horn section that mirrors Dap-King horns in the best possible way: understated, snazzy and always musical.

The more you listen, the more it seems like labeling this music as one genre would be cheating. The diversity is immense but more importantly, the facets that are revealed with every new song convey distinct styles. “Backslider” is pure ambient ooze with droning pedal tones and calming vocal lines, and the retrospective “Sister Water” combines a guitar melody with atmospheric nostalgia at the beach. These are the “ambient” touches that are, in reality, found all over Some Sweet Relief.

The band’s reigning motto is one that they coined themselves: “Don’t compromise your vision and don’t let anyone tell you that the way you want to do things isn’t valid.” Awkwardly stated and with a clunky delivery but the message is clear in that following your heart and brain make for the best kind of music. Ultimately, Speck Mountain will be a band to look out for and their music is a dreamy recollection of tried and true inspirations. The opening strands of “Shame on the Soul” will hook you in and it’s from there on out that Speck Mountain’s ambient soul will wash all over you.

Speck Mountain
Carrot Top
Recent Daytrotter session