[17 December 2009]
Although the various strains of ambient music have their fans, it’s rare that a band crosses over, even to the extent of getting signed to a bigger label and having their album reviewed among the more common indie/rock fare out there. With Choral, Mountains not only crosses that threshold into the wider music fan consciousness, they prove they deserve to be there. After two stellar albums on their own label, their Thrill Jockey debut may be their best yet. Based around heavily manipulated acoustic guitar tones (but including everything from books to ice water as source material), the duo’s blissful drone feels fresh and oddly natural in a genre that at its worst can feel canned and disposable. Choral is by turns euphoric, pastoral, lysergic, and seething as well as a hundred other things, but it’s never for a second less than gorgeous.