Jan 24 2016
This is one of those unclassifiable recordings that come at your from all kinds of directions and each one of them is about as cool as it gets. The first volume of the two-part Psychedelic Mountain release from Christoph Merki is quirky and imaginative and possesses all kinds of personality. It’s a Something Different album that just wants to be your newest best friend. Not for nothing, though, it is different.
Opening track “Doors of Perception (One for Aldous Huxley)” gets right to that point. Bringing together elements of modern jazz, Eno-esque ambient pop, indie rock and Kraut-rock, it comes together as an ambiguous, but seriously catchy and undeniably potent concoction that goes down way smoother than one would expect from such a muddled list of ingredients. This is pretty much how the whole album plays out. Some tracks, like “Mountain 2 (Also Sprach),” veer crazily into avant-garde territory, but even those tend to return full circle to jazz-fringes territory with a well-placed trumpet solo or piano wind-sprint.
“Mut zum Moll” is a nice example of how the finely textured percussive tableau enhances the simple beauty of the ensemble’s well-crafted melodies. Marimba and piano and keyboards and electronic blips and struck metal all combine as the glittering array of colors in the visible spectrum as seen through the lens of individual raindrops during a heavy storm. “Mountain 5” adds a bit of vocals as one of many layers comprising the thick blanket of harmonies spread across the surface of the song.
“Bergsee-Sonate oder Für Livia (Ensemble Version)” colors a thick bright line of Steve Reich influenced repetition, whereas “Mountain 1C” has a loping cadence and a compulsion to groove. “Mountain 5” also works in a groove with its space-age lounge vibe. And every bit of these three approaches is immeasurably fun.
A very cool album doing something very different.
Your album personnel: Christoph Merki (alto & soprano saxes), Daniel Schenker (trumpet), Ramon Ziegler (piano), Lars Schmid (Fender Rhodes, electronics), Mario von Holten (marimba, percussion), Stephan Athanas (electric bass), Tony Renold (drums) and guest: Andreas Schaerer (vocals).
Released on Unit Records.
Music from the Zurich, Switzerland scene.
And, as I noted above, don’t forget that there’s a Volume 2 out there now, too.