Mountains’ music is defined by slow builds, and subtle transformations, textures and melodic lines that evolve in a variety of ways to create grand soundscapes and acutely detailed compositions. For Centralia, the duo of Koen Holtkamp and Brendon Anderegg wrote and recorded in a way that mirrors the pace of their music. While the current trend in experimental music is towards hyper-prolificity, Mountains have taken their time on Centralia, resulting in an album that is as precise as it is boundless. Holtkamp and Anderegg approached the album layer by layer, throughout much of the record combining purely-acoustic recordings with purely-electronic sounds rather than using electronics to manipulate acoustic source material. Guitar, cello, organs, electric piano, and more are seamlessly combined with modular electronics, synthesizers and other sound sources. The result is a fully engrossing listen, always shifting focus between acoustic instruments, processed instruments and electronic sound.
Most of Centralia was recorded by Holtkamp and Anderegg at Telescope Recording in Brooklyn, with the exception of the side-long “Propeller” and “Liana,” which are recordings of live shows later augmented with additional instrumentation. The duo recorded, edited, and mixed everything themselves, creating a sonic and aesthetic continuity only achievable through such fastidious and insular methods. Be it the gently melodic acoustic guitar and keyboard of “Tilt” or the steady, subtle pulsating haze of “Living Lens,” the album is as sonically rich as it is compositionally diverse.
Centralia is the most fully realized Mountains album, it encompasses everything Mountains represents, from the analog electronic sound of Air Museum, to the gentle warmth and improvised grandeur of Choral. Mountains are utterly singular in their ability to combine such varied and complex sources into such delicately detailed songs of perceived simple pastoral ambience.