Remember the opening of Blade Runner? As Agent Deckard navigates the urban sprawl, the glistening golden pyramid of Tyrell Corporation eclipses a futuristic Los Angeles, as blimps with giant screens bear down on the hustling and bustling inhabitants of the city. It all seemed so sleek and yet so dirty. And Vengalis’ score, choc-a-bloc with the latest in synth sounds, filled cinemas with a sense of a utopia that had already diminished in the film’s many noir scenes–a utopia our present would never reach.
If Ridley Scott had made the film in 2011, Mountains‘ Air Museum could be its soundtrack. A seven-track feast of glistening soundscapes, it’s a real album-lovers album. Much, much greater than the sum of its parts, it doesn’t hook you quickly, but with repeated listens its sophistication, not to mention its terse emotion, becomes quite clear.
It’s the combination of soaring drones and bubbling, almost unheard sounds, that makes you feel, as with Deckard’s L.A in 2019, that the album explores the voice of a city of people who can’t quite speak, and with the poignant “Newsprint” and rumbling “Sequel” in particular, Mountains have excelled; if you had to split the album up, these would be the takeaway tracks. Really, though, it’d be better to describe Air Museum as one long experiment that’s divided into several movements; its strongest tracks are stronger in context than out of context. Indeed, with every superlative you could throw at the album–ethereal, epic, considered, deep–you find that its effect is always increasing as the duration does, like the stretching of a rubber band.
And what a rubber band. If Mountains deservedly rose to prominence with the critical acclaim of 2009’s Choral, then Air Museum should cement that praise. This album is a serious triumph.