Mountain Coast is a Denver-based collective which comes out of a 15-year partnership between guitarist Dave Devine and synthesist Michael bailey. Phases follows their debut recording Watch Peak (Self Produced, 2021), with Devine and Bailey joined by new band mate trumpeter Kenny Warren. It is a true pandemic album, recorded remotely but with some interaction between the parts. Warren's trumpet and Devine's guitar tracks were processed by Bailey with effects, samplers and modular synthesizers. This procedure created new layers to improvise over, opening up unexpected paths for the collective result.
"4Jeffe" opens the album with spacious overlapping brass lines accompanied by a rich soundscape, almost a chorale. Much of the background may be guitar-based, but identifiable guitar sounds emerge only occasionally (lap steel seems to be a significant component). "Common Dolphin" takes the whole band into a textural territory, a sound that rises and falls in an ambient wash (including a field recording of a boat motor drone, plus a bit of barely comprehensible dialog in the mix). "Phase I" features solo trumpet, and "Phase II" begins with an unaccompanied trumpet groove, which is then looped into a sound reminiscent of one of Steve Reich's phase shift compositions: a simple idea expanded into an entire piece.
"Beads" establishes an electronic pattern which resolves into what sounds like a string pad, which slowly shifts harmonically. No doubt the source sounds include brass and guitars, but the end result is a meditative ambient electronic wash, with a climax which sounds like a choir (but with a few identifiable trumpet sounds right at the end). The set concludes with "November 23rd," a rich ambient blend of brass and electronic sounds which gradually loops into gentle repetitious patterns. Guitar textures come into focus towards the end, reminding the listener of one of the key instruments in the mix. This is ambient chamber music drawing equally from improvisational and electronic music, a blend reflecting years of playing experience while simultaneously sounding completely contemporary.
4Jeffe; Common Dolphin; Phase I; Phase II; Flor De Miedo; Beads; November 23rd
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