06 November 2010

Mountainhood - brother the cloud (2008, Reverb Worship)

A limited release, 50 CDR copies of it, on an obscure experimental indie label, solo project of Michael Curtis Hilde, living in New York, playing as Mountainhood and previously as Almaden. It could be one more of these folk artists mixing their basic songwriting with experimentation but it's just not that.


Mountainhood plays sensitive melancholic and intimate moving lo-fi indie songs with a few psychedelic acid folk aspects at times, a substyle many were exploring in the nineties on labels like Shrimper or other similar ones, not to far from what artists like Sentridoh, Wio, The Supreme Dicks, Julie Doiron were recording at their beginnings. It's not so far from others – sometimes beautifully out of tune - songwriters I defended on this website, from Putois to Chauchat, from 1985 to The Love of Everything, from The Iditarod to Appendix out. The warm d-i-y qualitiy is there, you may just have to replace an analog distortion by a digital one and honestly it can change nothing. “Brother the cloud' is more moving than original, it's authentic but not nostalgic, more honest and sincere than inventive, but it absorbs you.

There are 19 songs for 78 minutes. It could be to long but in fact I was so hypnotized that I was even asking for more, it's epic at an human sensitivity scale. Sometimes it's too close from traditional folk hymns, like “Mtn. Whisper”, “High, Hard” or “Mtn Call” , too full of pity, “Night is like”, or too much done already, “I been gone”, and these songs, even if enjoyable at first may grow boring after a few listens.

Simlarly, a few songs seems unfinished, “Like a jet plane” or “Happy (the dotted line)” start with a certain mystery but disappear without reaching the expected apex, other ones are too rudimentary, “Light Pouring Mind” and “Crystal Face”, with their too loud vocals, or the too easy “Mtn. Jug-Bowl Party Home The Sequel”.

But of course there are far better realizations or I wouldn't be writing here : The opening “And counting” has got a nice female second voice and a delicate haunted folk atmosphere. “Vashti Waterdweller”or “Maia” are so fragile, delicately whispered, with a sensitive guitar, they could disappear with a breeze. “The Way I feel” is so poignant and moving it will bring you close to tears.

The weariness of “Dark Knight” is strangely appealing and “French Walk in the Park” recalls me of the first Dust Dive album. Even if the vocals are completely out of tune, the emotions are just stronger. “Pater Hamsun's Childlike Observations” or “Marchen Fables” seem to be antediluvian, belonging to these same grounds were grew Pearls Before Swine or Bridget St. John, a few decennia ago. On the last song, the use of a layer of a distorted second guitar in the background adds depth to an already impressive song and a feeling invades you as the music slowly fades.

Half of this album is remarkable, and considering the length of “Brother the cloud”, you can create with patience and selection a really impressive work. I like Mountainhood when he really takes care of his songs, when he elaborates patiently subtle atmospheres because then there is another dimension created and you start to lose yourself completely into his music. “Brother the cloud” is my entry to his discography, like with Thanksgiving, I guess I have to explore more of him.

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