Mountains Air Museum(Thrill Jockey) Buy it from Insound
Nearly five minutes in to listening to Mountains' Air Museum while driving my car, I fell half-asleep and nearly drove my car off the road. I realized then that in order to properly appreciate Brendan Anderegg and Koen Holtkamp's latest effort, I would have to hole myself up in my bedroom and listen to the album's subtly shifting drone via a good pair of headphones. So I did just that, and similarly, within a very short space of time I fell asleep.
So again, more determined than ever, I set forth to once again listen to Air Museum, and give it an honest to goodness objective assessment. What I found this third time was a deliberately paced and intricately textured drone record that was nonetheless wholly unremarkable and boring. Sadly, the recording is much more form than function, with the duo seeming to focus on the novelty of recording an electronic album with analog instrumentation and studio wizardry instead of focusing on crafting memorable sonic explorations.
Mountains' calling card has always been their ability to craft memorable pieces that capture audibly what it is like to be standing in the middle of a stunning nature preserve, drinking in the grandeur of a peaceful landscape. They are known for using the near stillness of their compositions to draw the listener in to imagining some mythical guarded pasture where nothing but pleasantness and gentleness surrounds. However, on Air Museum, they have created so much space that their stillness becomes almost a mockery of ambient drone music. Opening track January 17 begins with a familiar drone that evokes the bands past recordings, but instead of slowly mutating into an impressive sonic landscape, the only difference five minutes later is that the track has gotten louder. On a later track of the album, Newsprint, static fuzz is paired with dissonant tones, but somehow stays unimpressively dull.
In fact, the only remarkable thing about this album is how unremarkable it is compared with the previous releases of the band. It's not that this album is bad; it really is quite pretty. It's just such a boringly average release that the band seems to have retrogressed into one of the millions of anonymous and pretentious electro-drone bands that exist nowadays.18 May, 2011 - 09:24 — Preston Bernstein