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Choral James Holloway , February 23rd, 2009 09:11

It's perhaps fitting that Mountains’ Choral should come to me on a day when fat flakes of crystalised water have blanketed the capital and everyone's done a bunk from work. Mountains’ impossibly polite but frosty drones and glitches are the perfect soundtrack to such composed beauty.

The spirit of Fripp and Eno's utterly beautiful yet stark Evening Star haunts Choral. This is not least for the dedication to pure instrumentals and the richness of its sound, augmented by being recorded live.

I can imagine what Christmas is like for the Mountains duo when it's their turn to do the rounds of each other's parents. There’d be, one assumes, much fat chewed with their wives and girlfriend’s fathers over how the analogue tape loops on Eno's Music for Airports haven't been bettered. This enthusiasm would only be broken as the dads try to impress their 'now-for-definite' polite son-in-laws by cueing up said album for the whole family to sit through in embarrassed silence while watching the sky powder fall.

The title track's luscious drone evokes J Spaceman asleep at the organ, his face planted on the keys, and ascends to pay reverence to St Brian within minutes. 'Map Table' is almost sociable in its chiming and plucking but the snow still lies heavy as it forays down paths formerly trod by Mogwai, along with glitches that mark a brief respite from earnestness.

'Telescope' brings out the psychedelic drone in force, channeling Spacemen 3's more monged moments, but with more assured professionalism. 'Add Infinity' is about as jaunty as 'Choral' gets and has a pleasing diversion into shoegaze as it meanders off into the whiteout of pristine low key noise to ask Neil Halstead to reform Slowdive.

Closers 'Melodica' and 'Sheets Two' end the album on a thaw as the more glacial sounds are replaced by trickles and rivulets of iced chimes and glitch-drops and shimmery warm reverbs. Proud, confident horns announce the coming spring as I awake from hibernation to see that the flawless snow outside is already turning grey from innumerable footsteps.

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