Review – “skyland mtn.” – Snoqualmie

reviewed by Laura Stanley

A few months ago, Blake Enemark (Snoqualmie) and I exchanged Tweets about good studying music after I had told him that Snoqualmie’s self-titled record from last year was particularly helping the process along. It was then that he suggested I listen to Brian Eno’s Ambient series, in particular Music For Airports.

Providing the perfect atmosphere for me to escape into another world, one which allowed me to finally get some work done, Eno’s Ambient series also gave me the perfect introduction to the ambient music genre. Focusing more on the musical texture and the soundscapes over commercial appeal, Eno said that ambient music, “must be as ignorable as it is interesting.”

Taking his cues from Eno, and I’m sure from others as well, Enemark’s new record skyland mtn. is an ambient record, nicely applying Eno’s ideas of ambient music to his own effort. Best experienced by yourself with a huge pair of headphones on, like Enemark notes himself, skyland mtn. is an array of odd sounds, including: “russian phasers,” “dying organs,” “droned pedal steel,” that when put together, make for a lush output.

The basis of the opener and title track is a warm and heavy sound, the dying organ perhaps, contrasted by a lighter instrumental part carrying the melody of the song. This  juxtaposition comes up again in the thirteen and a half minute long closing song, appropriately entitled “long ambient.” It’s here, following the ambient tradition of long epic songs, where Enemark combines crisp guitar sounds with a beautiful range of background noises.

The subtle complexities of “long ambient” is one of Snoqualmie’s best, enabling listeners to get lost in the emotional peaks and the particularities of the song when needed, but also becoming pleasant background music. Along with “long ambient,” the track that proceeds it, “deep river,” is another highlight. The most powerful of the five, the song’s reverb creates the illusion that you have plunged into the deep river and this is what you hear underneath its surface. Chilling as a result, “deep river” also features barely audible and haunting wails, from what I believe is a person, to complete the brilliance.

The elegiac sounds of “deep river” do not stand alone. “there are no words” and “harmonic inversion” blend well together, conducting mournful feelings and allowing both tracks to feel like wordless laments to the past.

Ambitiously venturing off into the ambient world, Snoqualmie’s skyland mtn. creates delicate soundscapes, perfect for downtime and study time, but really anytime.

skyland mtn. is available on Bandcamp and you can also buy it on black and white cassette tape.

Top Tracks: “deep river” “long ambient”

Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)

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