White Mountain
Western Vinyl
Street: 03.05
Úlfur = Múm + Billow Observatory
Ahhh… one of these. You know, sweeping soundscapes and an oh-so Icelandic dose of studied aural ambivalence that’s supposed to concoct awe-inspiring sonic portraits of mountains, glaciers, frost-encrusted forest temples home to cherubic pixies, ice queens and … you know. Icelandic stuff. (I swear I’m not gonna reference Björk.) In that regard, White Mountain nails it with the precision of a practiced crossbow-spear thrust through the sternum of a lumbering yeti. It breathlessly showcases Úlfur Hansson’s (Jónsi bassist) penchant for tinkling, semi-ambient sonispheres that all congeal into one giant, twinkling glacial mass (“Heaven in a Wildflower”). Unfortunately, where contemporaries opt for throbbing pastiches which invite listeners to keep revisiting for engaging new discoveries, White Mountain makes a sleepy claim for background music or a melatonin suppository. It’s not poorly executed, but relies too heavily on calming atmospherics and sub-level yawnery to paint its mountainous picture, and it’s unlikely that anyone, beyond the ice-pop obsessives, will listen more than once. ¬–Dylan Chadwick