Secret Mountains | High Horse (Shaking Through)
It’s been over two years since I last wrote about the Baltimore band Secret Mountains, but I haven’t forgotten their distinctive sound. Thankfully, Shaking Through (an independent Philadelphia music curator which supports bands in creating a song in two days) posted a new session from the band, leading to a new track called “High Horse”. And the song has that same high quality that I remember trying to capture in writing about the band’s debut record. I noted Jeffrey Silverstein’s “drowsy electric guitar” and the “spacey cooing” of lead singer Kelly Laughlin. But what truly makes this band so different than the trend toward quirky eclecticism and chaotic sounds, is the utter patience build of their most powerful songs. While many bands try to push the envelope with a kind of busy proof of ingenuity, Secret Mountains is content to explore open spaces. It’s like comparing the convergence of city traffic with the expanse of space. It’s the kind of music that tends toward beautiful introspection, quiet moods, and deft build-ups. In a way, there’s a sort of secular spirituality about their style — a poured grace to it all. Guitars don’t ignite and thrash, they waft, envelope, they fill the room like lingering smoke off a snuffed-out candle. Previously, Secret Mountains created tracks with titles like “Kaddish”, “Gate Gate Paragate”, and “Countries”. These are songs, like “High Horse”, build on clouds and cushions. Songs that move by dreamy-transitioning and gradual graduations. In “High Horse”, Laughlin sings softly and soothingly, just slightly above waltzing percussion, keyboard reverberations, and guitar expansive as wind. In fact, there are echoes of wind behind the lead instruments, giving the song a cool, contemplative, haunting, and breezy tone. I’ve always felt that Secret Mountains is one of those bands that should be better heard. But they play a style the requires a sort of submission from listeners. It’s almost as if it were the type of music meant for the nighttime, meant for wandering and curious souls. For previous Their Bated Breath posts about Secret Mountains click here. Follow the band at facebook and tumblr. You can download the new track at Shaking Through, where you can also see a video about its creation. — David D. Robbins Jr.