There’s this one video documentary on Wesley Willis, the schizophrenic gag-songwriter from Chicago, where, amongst discourses about “rock and roll McDonald’s” and oral bestiality, he expounds on the importance of every song being exactly two minutes and 50 seconds in length. I’m not sure if it’s just an eerie coincidence or not, but each of the first three tracks on Mount Vision from northern California’s Emily A. Sprague is between seven and eight minutes long, as if there’s some neurotic mental clock in her head telling her an exact uniform time at which to wrap… it… up. Generally, this length isn’t a problem at all, as the track sequencing offers nice variation for the most part from synth ambient to piano ode and back, one notable moment coming in opener “Synth One” when you think this hip-hop beat is going to come in, but then it suddenly and bizarrely dissipates back into electronic ennui.
Along these lines, this is nothing if not proof that Mount Vision strives to be a conceptual album just as much as it does a textural one, or a visceral one. This is not music for busy occasions involving lots of people – it is like the woods of northern California, themselves, expansive, patient and meditative. Right now, I’m listening to it on a Sunday, and it’s hard to imagine any day of the week being more appropriate for its relentlessly oblong structure and low frequency of turns in mood – Wednesday through Saturday would be pretty much out of the question.
Anyway, oozing along with roughly the intensity and feel of a Julianna Barwick album without the vocals, Mount Vision, with its curious song titles of “Synth One”; “Synth Two”; “Synth Three” and “Piano One”; plots down a refreshingly undulating and constantly inspired soundscape. As a piano player, she’s disarmingly simple but undeniably driven, too, the melodies repetitive and minimalist, as if providing the groundwork for or taking the groundwork from an experimental band like Grizzly Bear of Califone, which might take some of these instrumental etudes and craft an anthemic pop song over them. Actually, the finale, “Piano Two,” reminds me in instrumentation, mood and even exact riff, of the last song on Califone’s Roots & Crowns, “If You Would.” After hearing some of the nauseatingly retro mainstream stuff we’ve had lately, this experimental aspect really hits the spot.