Mountains: Air Museum (Thrill Jockey)
The latest from post-rock outfit Mountains is a bit of a departure sonically from what I’ve heard from them in the past. The most immediate distinction is the prominence of synthesizers in the music here. It’s still mostly quite pastoral and entirely instrumental, but the inclusion of more obvious electronics lends Air Museum a very different sound than the elegant and refined acoustic leanings of their past output. But they’ve managed to still keep it quite organic, relying mostly on vintage synths without software sequencing, so everything has a natural looseness that fits their aesthetic well. All of the vibration from layers of electronic pads gives this a vaguely nostalgic and shimmering quality, harking back to 70s synth soundscapes and vintage krautrock, like a fuzzier, beatless Neu! Most of what would have been handled by guitar on their previous outing Choral is instead handled by synth arpeggios, with occasional exceptions — “Sequel,” for instance, has a nice high-end bass guitar pattern throughout. But for the most part, Air Museum is a bright, shimmering mass of synths, drones and tones, sounding quite unlike their more introspective early releases and instead unfurling with more majesty and spectacle than ever before. Fans of Emeralds and its side projects will likely enjoy this as it features a similar affinity to old-school synth soundtracks without sounding like mere throwback.