With a firm hand for delicate layers and slow-burning compositions, the duo of Mountains creates a stellar relationship with the listener on their latest instrumental album, Centralia. Regarded as their ‘most fully-realized album,’ the duo worked closely together, crafting the album through repetitive work that involved the heavy use of acoustic layers fused with electronic tendencies. These seven pieces invite the listener into an engrossing experience, one that requires attention but in the end, Centralia is a moving album.
The reality with such music, referred to by many as drone music, is that unless an honest time effort is enforced, the music will never reach you. With Mountains, the band has rendered these songs with fires that slowly burn like an ember, rather than any kind of forceful flames. The opening “Sand” is ingrained with minimal string adjustments and thriving synthesizers; it registers as the album’s clear decoration of what kind of styles will be present. And while it’s pensive and secluded, it’s also very involved with a lot of different layers in formation. Sort of like “Liana” and the transcendent keyboard that glitters in the beginning, a lot of the songs rely on a minimal hand at the helm.
While nothing on Centralia will immediately catch anyone’s attention, songs like “Tilt” offer a recurring melody and a cast of layers to surround it. The guitar line is ominous and the droning feedback around it leaves for an unfinished tone. A lot of times, notes are suspended in air for minutes on end; they appear like pedal tones would in a classical piece, but here, they enforce the buzzing atmosphere around the duo’s heads. The ending lull of “Living Lens” is reflectively sweet and is adorned with more atmospheres. This time the guitar sparkles above it all, and it ends up being a hushed goodbye. There is a little over an hour worth’s of music packed onto Centralia and Mountains ensure that the heady material is easily digested.
Everything is definitely appealing from the sense that this is finely crafted music. Neither musician is relying on the other for success, instead Mountains’ fluid chemistry overflows into Centralia’s brilliant flow. Perhaps the most fully realized album is the one that is most consistently endearing and yet, still flows like a creek spiraling down a mountain. If imagery is what Mountains destined for on Centralia then the goal has been met tenfold and furthermore, it’s an album worth digesting, a few times if not more.