Centralia

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The electronic ambient duo of Koen Holtkamp and Brendon Anderegg make a definitive statement with their latest effort; the vibrant and colossal, Centralia.  Like with a lot of ambient music, patience equals rewards, and the same holds true with this album.  Mountains have been consistent with their musical output, releasing an album about every other year over the past eight.  They have also been consistent with putting together good music and with Centralia, they have stepped it up a notch, and given us an album with a lot more depth, this is an album that captures your attention throughout its lengthy 66 minutes. Opener “Sand” is an eleven minute track that features many analog synths and electronic flourishes, but finishes with a droning cello reminiscent of the great ambient drone band Stars of the Lid.  The second track “Identical Ship” brings onboard an acoustic guitar to the mix, but serves as more of a transitional piece to the rest of the album.  “Circular C” combines synth drones and piano while “Tilt” is more of a folk guitar piece with a synth background.  But the centerpiece of the album is the grandiose and sprawling “Propeller”, a track that gains momentum throughout its twenty minutes, and feels like a fascinating trip into space that comes equipped with a lazer light show and sonic layers of electronic fuzz.  All of the sound kind of evaporates at the end of the track leaving you with some room to breathe, appreciate, and reminisce on what you just took in.  “Propeller” sort of culminates everything that Mountains have built upon in their career up to this point. “Liana” and “Living Lens” finish the album off on a mediocre note.  The former starts off with some electronic bleeps and then ends with a distinctively heavy guitar chord.  The latter is the slowest moving piece on the album.  It is a minimalistic drone track that probably fits well at the end of the album, but is otherwise forgettable.  Overall though, Mountains have put together a very good album that exceeded my expectations.  The high point for me in their discography was their 2009 effort, Choral, that is until Centralia came along here in the early stages of 2013.  For any fan of ambient, electronic, or drone music, this is one you don’t want to miss.