Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating... The Music of Speck Mountain

Chicago trio Speck Mountain make rainy-day, ethereal music not unlike Mazzy Star or the classic 4AD stable. The songs on their debut, Summer Above, are better suited for winter, all languid and lugubrious. Shuffling drums, shimmering guitars, and modal organs back Marie-Claire Balabanian's drowsy valium-d(r)owned vocals (key lyric: "I have been without sleep, but my heart I will keep near").

The music is less spacey than it is watery, glacial, submerging. Sometimes we're floating on gentle waves; sometimes shivering on a frozen lake. "Stockholm" is dipped in frosted reverb, with a fantastic whistle interlude (a nod to Swedes Peter Bjorn & John?). "Fjord Song" sounds like just that: echoing against the valley walls, singing back through the mist.

Galaxie 500 might be the easiest reference, if only for the elliptical simplicity and the lushness they achieve with so little. Often it's just organ, guitar, a tambourine, and a voice; and yet the sound is spectral and Spector-al, a wall wave of sound, lapping at the shore.

With its loping bass and coy saxophone, the title track is probably the lease frostily dire of the seven songs. The Fender Rhodes, though, throbs with vibrato, pulsing with the rising tide. It's the sound of setting out to sea, and the rest of the album quells any sea-sickness with a gentle ebb and flow.

"Summer Above" by Speck Mountain (download)









And here's a newer instrumental track, the B-side from their Blood Is Clean 7". With the staccato organ pulses and 2-chord repetition, it dips into some serious Spacemen 3 territory...

"Backslide" by Speck Mountain









You can purchase Summer Above HERE.

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