Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Mountain Movers LP Apple Mountain

"The Story of Apple Mountain as told by The Mountain Movers" reads the text surrounding the circular map on the cover of the lyric booklet for Apple Mountain. The snow globe like world has its own markets, flora, fauna, labor and snowstorms. But the She and He of this story move through the distances and time of this mountainous landscape as thoughts passing through visions. The Mountain Movers welcome us in, as Dan Greene sings:

Betrothal was hid soft
in the iris and the heart.
Sadly they were kept apart
and their villages were blocked
by rival ideas and Apple Mountain.

She lived in Apple Quarry
and he lived in Orchard Village.

Both towns made their money
on the elevated orchards
that dotted all sides
of Apple Mountain.

Welcome to Apple Mountain.
Welcome to Apple Mountain.

The setting, palette, and textures of Apple Mountain's music and story bring to mind Sergei Parajanov's film Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors. The chthonic Apple Mountain draws She and He into itself, leading both to transfiguration and unity, and beyond to a new reality outside their former waking-sleep. The image of She and He levitating to "Somewhere Imaginary" - an afterworld within the world of Apple Mountain - has what looks to be jetpacks on their backs blasting them upwards. The appearance of this technology blends into an otherwise medieval world, and is part of the vision-logic of this tale. The story ends with She and He eventually at "The Curve." In the booklet She and He are last seen driving there in a vehicle decorated with paintings of apples and apple trees. A careful look at the map of Apple Mountain shows that there are two areas labeled "The Curve." It's all very elliptical. "Every vision has its own complex logic" sings Greene in It Began to Snow. Perhaps the map helps us navigate this logic. But what exactly do She and He transfigure into? What is the meaning of the many fantastique elements of the story of Apple Mountain? Not everything is explained, nor need it be.

The LP's closing song, Welcome To Apple Mountain (Reprise) grows over its four minutes from soaring organ and strolling bass into a Rune Lindblad style musique concrète collage. Working backwards from there, just before is the song They Hit the Curve, a brief Give Peace a Chance-like, albeit more intimate, acoustic stomp. The two places called "The Curve" on Apple Mountain's map are essentially opposite each other. It's hard not to wonder if hitting the curve means locking into the groove of a record, and the experience of shared listening.

Eyes locked
and thoughts merged
they hit the curve.

Eyes locked
and thoughts merged
they hit the curve.

An LP's terrain of peaks and valleys, its circularity, opposite sides, and even the capacity to move the needle to any point within its grooves, parallel so much of the story the lyrics tell. The music moves through low key Velvet Underground jams interwoven with psych-out interludes. Delicate percussion, soft organ, lilting bass, Greene's signature voice, and the many incidental sounds that flitter and meander in and out create a pleasant languor of being stoned in a field of tall grasses hissing in a warm breeze. All it takes is closing your eyes to feel the Sufi whirling of this, as Apple Mountain is a deeply spiritual record. One that reveals the physical nature of the LP itself to be like a story of a She and He sharing the experience of listening, being drawn into its songs, coming together in the way the fingers of two loving hands intertwine, and the change experiencing music can bring. Following that logic, an LP can in its own way be quite sacred.

As for that black sheen of blank vinyl of the fourth side - I first thought maybe an etching of the map of Apple Mountain would have been appropriate to decorate this emptiness, but this void suggests that inexplicable part of being, the period before birth and after death. Three sides, beginning, middle and end, with that one fourth place forever hidden from life.

she said, "How did you get here?"

He said, "I know where you are
but I want to know where you're going."

Apart from the nature of the physical media being tied to the ideas pressed within it, each illustration of the booklet is framed by a perfect circle, including the last page of credits, which has a friendly suggestion from the Movers to start the LP over while rereading the booklet once again. Will do guys - I'll be listening again and again until I'm no longer around to flip the sides.

Available from The Mountain Movers' very own Car Crash Avoiders label.
2LP record with lyric/picture book + CD (CCA003) $22.99 FREE shipping in USA
(Fourth full length release by The Mountain Movers. Limited Edition of 250.)

Here is “The Soil Under the Ground”

Here is “He Descended Transfigured”

Track list:

1. Seed 0:20
2. Welcome To Apple Mountain 1:25
3. Root 0:11
4. Soil Under the Ground 1:11
5. The Quarry Below 2:59
6. Branch 0:22
7. He Set His House On Fire 1:58
8. Detached And Lying Down 4:51
9. Kiss of White 4:26
10. The Mountain and the Moon 2:46
11. Leaf 0:32
12. It Began To Snow 5:32
13. He Descended Transfigured 2:08
14. The Rivers Are Black 5:29
15. Blossom 1:17
16. She Ascended Transfigured 2:09
17. Somewhere Imaginary 1:49
18. In Their Hands 9:30
19. They Hit the Curve 0:38
20. Welcome To Apple Mountain (Reprise) 4:06


Brushback said...

Wow, I didn't even know Mountain Movers had a new album out. Stupid me, I guess.

Rich Martin said...

News to me as well but good news indeed!

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