Sunday, 17 May 2009

Album Review - Speck Mountain - Some Sweet Relief - Noize Makes Enemies


Pigeon-holing itself as “ambient soul”, Speck Mountain consists of Karl Briedrick and Marie-Claire Balabanian, who have also enlisted the help of an array of other musicians for their second album.


The layering of such a variety of polished and mood-affecting instrumentals mixed with an almost psychedelic overtone, conjures associations with the likes of a mellow, slightly pissed off, Animal Collective. This teamed with an overwhelming sense of sombreness and Marie-Claire’s vocals similarity to Lali Puna and Portishead’s Beth Gibbons, adds an even deeper element of blues.


The solemn mood to the album seems to smother the eleven tracks as they progress over the course of forty minutes. This is undoubtedly the result of the emotional place that the band were at the time of recording, with both Marie-Claire and Karl using the opportunity as a sort of cathartic output of self expression. Admittedly this can work, but unlike the enchantingly chill of Bon Iver productions, the chokehold of moroseness appears to stifle all the necessary charm needed to make the album similarly endearing.


Whilst, the musical talent of the duo and the flawless vocals of Marie-Claire are undisputable, the relevance in today’s music scene may be too populated to recognise such subtleties and indeed, ambience.

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