The Alps: III

[20 November 2008]

By Timothy Gabriele

III, the first studio album by The Alps is a drug store bottle’s worth of dark mystery, foreboding and uncertain, yet tantalizing and mesmeric. Riding a mighty mellow vibe (not unlike the rusty tripadelic grooves on the Mighty Mellow compilations), The Alps are a threesome comprised of visual artist Scott Hewicker, the underrated Tarentel’s front man Jefre Cantu-Ledesma (who also records moving ambient solo works), and Alexis Georgopoulos, a former member of Tussle and the creator of fine works of subtle minimalist komische as Arp. Combined, the gentlemen have a hell of a lot of talent between them, and this is the rare instance where that pays off.

III is an album of considerable beauty. It also flows fluidly as longform piece, shards of Spiritualized-style shimmer (“A Mahna Na Praia”) collapsing into elliptical Seefeel/ Bowery Electric basslines (“Hallucinations”), hints of every one from Air to Bardo Pond to Cluster to Terry Riley participating in the aural peyote-fueled trek. “Trem Fantasma” is entirely comprised around spacey flourishes of twinkly piano, mountain folk guitar, and haunting antique-sounding vocals. Each of the elements waltz in and out of hearing range with a walking bassline, fading like vapor trails to be replaced by the next wondrous sound. In fact, the majority of the pieces here are, like “Trem Fantasma”, simple jams. But they are blissfully orchestrated by their players, who apply each progression and each tweak of the knob reluctantly. The album never resorts to a roar or a whisper to exude its sense of presence. It lets you melt into its tide and just drift away into its psychedelic wilderness.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/65778-the-alps-iii/