Mountains is Brendon Anderegg and Koen Holtkamp, friends since their middle school days. The duo were brought together by mutual artistic and musical interests, and both ended up at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. It was during this time that they began exchanging musical ideas and compositions which led to them founding the Apestaartje label in 1999. As their collaborations and individual projects blossomed, they decided to create Mountains as a vehicle for live performance.
A love of sculpting sound in front of an audience is at the heart of Mountains. The group’s third album, Choral, (their first self-titled release and second album Sewn were both on Apestaartje), is the culmination of their work to date and a balanced mix of the first two efforts. Mountains is often compared to artists such as Brian Eno and Fennesz citing their extended melodies and their unique broad guitar work. Mountains seamlessly blend pastoral electronic sounds with both field recordings and a plethora of acoustic instruments. The resulting soundscapes are broad in scope and rich in detail. The effect is incredibly sublime and hypnotic as the sounds slowly wrap themselves around each other and alter themselves in the mind of the listener. Choral is a uniquely soothing and addicting listening experience and an aural crazy quilt: warm and inviting with many details to discover and explore.
Recorded by the duo entirely in the winter and spring of 2008 at home in Brooklyn, Choral is largely live and performed in real time, with only a few overdubs to create a more “choral” effect. The opening title-track carries the weight of a full orchestra gradually drawing their bows across a field of strings. The subtle undulations produce a warm blank canvas and create an impending sense of what’s to come. As the percolating electronic melodies creep into the track, they’re soon joined by field recordings, organ, electric piano, synthesizer, accordion and then later by the gentle strum of a guitar. This densely layered and textured song contains over 30 tracks of material. On the quiet and more guitar oriented “Map Table”, the band ‘play’ ice water and books by recording the sounds of them flipping through the pages. The calming “Telescope” actually features the sound of an intense thunderstorm recorded in the desert in Arizona. Guiding us through sonic peaks and valleys, the band takes us on a journey through their realm of experimentation, occasionally crossing over into psychedelic and kosmiche (Harmonia, Cluster, Popol Vuh) territory. Choral is the sound of an adventuresome duo, who is equally invested in melody and discovery.