Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Speck Mountain is the Word

Word Magazine
Speck Mountain-Wherein alt.country square dances with psychedelic gospel
Musical collision could just be the last refuge of the indolent scoundrel, yet occasionally something genuinely thrilling can squeeze out between the cracks of genre paving stones so willfully tossed around. Speck Mountain’s Karl Briedrick and Marie-Claire Balabanian achieve an absorbing alchemy on their second album, compiling country, gospel, shoegazing, ambient and psychedelic sounds into what we could foolishly call a sonic Battenberg. In spirit and mood, these nine careful, sighing, unfolding tracks may on the surface call to mind Cat Power (Backsliding), Throwing Muses (the title track), Dusty In Memphis (I Feel Eternal) or mid-period Lambchop (Twinlines); but it’s the repetition of lethargic chords, beaten out over sleepy and minimal percussion, that delivers the music into a more spectral plane. Balabanian’s tired and pained voice is their trump card and sparse, whispered musical arrangement allows her the space to glide, a torch singer in an emotional power cut. —Eamonn Forde