It may be a touch rash to suggest that Oneohtrix Point Never are challenging, say, Lady Gaga for influence and ubiquity all of a sudden. Nevertheless, more and more psychedelic records I’m sent seem to follow levitational synth patterns rather than more rockist jams, and there’s even been a few weird instances of PRs dropping the Oneohtrix name as an eyecatching influence, when the actual music sounds nothing like him (last week: a very lame pop-dubstep thing with faint ethereal trim).

It may be a touch rash to suggest that Oneohtrix Point Never are challenging, say, Lady Gaga for influence and ubiquity all of a sudden. Nevertheless, more and more psychedelic records I’m sent seem to follow levitational synth patterns rather than more rockist jams, and there’s even been a few weird instances of PRs dropping the Oneohtrix name as an eyecatching influence, when the actual music sounds nothing like him (last week: a very lame pop-dubstep thing with faint ethereal trim).



There are worse trends, of course, and a fair bit of the new kosmische music that comes this way is good: the new Rene Hell album, “The Terminal Symphony”, is a pretty nice case in point which arrived last week, and I note with interest there’s some Mego/Emeralds activity with a new Mark McGuire comp and a spin-off label that looks intriguing.

One thing that bugs me, though, is how relatively little love Mountains seem to receive in the midst of all this, when I sometimes think that the records they’ve been making these past few years – the last ‘proper’ album, “Choral”, the brilliant “Etching” jam and, most recently, Koen Holtkamp’s solo “Gravity/Bees” – have been as good as anything from this apparent scene.

And certainly, as a track like “Thousand Square” or “Sequel” starts up on this new Mountains album, “Air Museum”, you can easily draw certain cosmic affinities. As they progress, however, the very specific pleasures of Holtkamp and Brendon Anderegg’s music become more and more pronounced. In the pieces linked above about their previous work (and especially in this live review from a 2009 Club Uncut show), I’ve touched on the way their soundscapes are constructed out of acoustic loops and samples, as well as electronic work, giving their music a more organic feel than the glistening ‘80s futurism affected by some of their contemporaries (perhaps this improvising, textured approach deters some synth puritans?) .

That’s the case on “Air Museums”; warm, expansive, exquisitely micro-detailed, and developed now to such a point of confidence and artfulness that the usual ‘70s German reference points I’ve rolled out in the past seem much less salient – though it’s mighty hard not to drop an obligatory Cluster one when the bobbling “Backwards Crossover” hoves into view.

The folksy acoustic guitars which have picked their way through some of Mountains’ music in the past don’t appear this time, at least overtly. There’s a lot of talk in the press release about the duo’s methodology, and about how “Air Museum” was made without computers, using, let me quote, “a variety of pedals, modular synths, and other analog techniques.” There are plenty of acoustic instruments on here, it continues, including cellos and accordions as well as pianos and guitars, but the processing is so intense that it’s hard to pick out specific sounds amidst a staticky wash like “Newsprint” or the final concert extract, “Live At The Triple Door”.

On the new Tim Hecker album, “Ravedeath 72”, you can often identify the central instrument as a pipe organ amidst all the swirl and blurring. Here, though, the organic vibes come through via ambience and implied detail, to create a fastidiously crafted and immersive music, and one that reveals new layers every time I play it.

Mention of Club Uncut earlier reminds me, by the way, that a couple of Mountains’ labelmates are playing for us this Thursday (March 21) in London. Arbouretum and Alexander Tucker are playing the Borderline, and tickets are still available here. Please come down if you’re in town.