Strange Mountain Glass Clouds II

[Exo Tapes; 2015]

Rating: 3/5

Styles: post-rock, new age, kosmische
Others: Kyle Landstra, Ossining, Tarkin Turfer, THE R∆INBOW BODY

One Giant Leap

There’s never really been a reason to return, but regret; youth that began adrift upon the hilltop; losing one’s virginity in a cemetery; the anticipation of experiencing the worst possible outcome. Glass Clouds II is the encapsulation of youth memories that still remain present through the physical. Strange Mountain (a.k.a. Marcel Thee) is the portrayal of the one who stuck around, who didn’t flee, and who accomplished his goals at home, inspired by memories and the habitual enablers, satiating his mental need to escape the confines of basic-culture. Upon your arrival, he’s staring directly into nothing, but beyond and out the window, immediately snapping out of it by providing a greeting like he had seen you yesterday. He is flush with genuine happiness. His composure is that of a barricaded charisma. He is totally calm upon mentioning, “Shit, my fingernail is missing.”

“Were they ever in this town?” is a frequent topic of discussion, as well as (but not limited to) “Can cops survive in the future,” hour-long debates on dolphinoplasty, and “We should’ve made the last Explosions in the Sky LP,” while walking wasted up- and downtown, drinking along the tracks. He talks up the premise of some short story he wrote about being in a tiger fight, coming out champion of trophy, wearing the animal’s hide as a hoodie, and drinking its thick blood chaliced in the basin of its skull the moment PETA walks in with their clipboards. Throughout the night, he’s providing convincing speeches on the paradise of smiling while losing hours of sleep just thinking to himself, but not realizing its insomnia. This all leads into his half-abandoned explanation about how “If trust is a commodity, then why don’t we put more trust into strangers — it’s like currency you can award yourself,” only to finally doze off with one eye open.

Waking up and finding he is without the internet and still only uses a landline, hearing familiar voices of neighbors coming through the telephone plug, and recognizing some of the names dropped within receiver-whispered gossip. There’s sunlight on the bird across the lawn. Walking downstairs, finding a corner of boxes, locating a loaded and cocked gun forgotten in the bottom of a cardboarded stash of photos. An unfolded letter protruding from the middle, written to him by Stephani in re-appearing ink, apologizing about making out in her parents’ basement with him when “high-ass Rob” came into the backyard, smashed out their glass door, and fought him until Rob ran away. Pictures of the meth lab trailer graveyard at the end of town and earning forgiveness by way of finding out on your own, years later. An old photo of the squad all geared up in the abandoned post-office basement in the middle of a jam. Tearing up to…

The Performance

From behind a red curtain in the corner adjacent to the box-cluttered area, a familiar breath of saxophone exhales into the air, accompanied by a pensive synthetic keyboard melody, and where your heart once was has now collapsed, mysteriously emitting music throughout your core — something so familiar it both enlightens and hollows your self, swelling more than hurting. Like a sneak attack, the curtain opens; our local-hero host is behind a wealth of samplers, synthesizers, and other instruments blocked by other instruments, and tucked in from behind by three very large speakers birthing sounds that are ensnaring the room with inexplicable sensations. He’s wearing the studded leather collar Jenny overdosed and died wearing. He’s using samples from all our old-jam recordings years ago, tweaking them ever so slightly. He’s incorporating them all with new-age synth-lines and ambiance. Noticing his eyebrow raise, you both make eye contact from across the room, and both bodies pulse together as he continues to play.

The sound is of two distinct and very familiar times accomplishing dreams that have been forgotten in the outskirts of rural bits of land, where culture begs to be created privately. It’s like walking into an abandoned section of a public building, finding every last unspoken ghost, and your audience is their honor, as if it’s their last chance at a confessional for legacy. This sound is the pearl that had been unearth, shined consistently throughout the years in complete confinement, locked away to the marvel its own beauty, awaiting its next witness. You’re the witness now. Like new eyes upon the sunrise, coercing one to repetitively question “Who am I?” and eventually slipping in the puddle of tears you’ve pooled around feet and knees. Would it be inappropriate to dance? Are these bird calls from when we were we? Is this a field recording of us and who we all once were? Do I still remain me from you in a distance of time and age? Can we forever greet each other as if we hung out yesterday?

“It doesn’t hurt,” he slowly mouths to you and continues to play. He’s right, and it feels like holding out/on until the last second; it feels like this moment should last forever, right here, in this basement, ringing out across the town this music is cloaked within. The middle of winter is right on the edge of summer sunshine. A sample of Rob playing the baby-grand piano inside town hall, which we broke into to record one day. Maybe it’s night time this morning. These basement sounds mingle together as prayer bowls will in a time much distant from now. Sounds like gently peeling open old wounds and tearing them blissfully larger. It’s not easy enough to forget, but that’s all you want to do, and he won’t let it go. He can’t let it go. All of this is his life’s story. These are his accomplishments. This is him letting it go by cycle of ouroboros: feasting over and over again on the past by constantly bringing it back up, finding new meaning, and dwelling further, ending on some of the last breaths Jenny every blew through her alto.


It’s impossible to tell the difference between tears and snot, as you both walk up the stairs breathing heavily without words. Upon exiting, the house smells more nostalgic than yesterday, because there hasn’t been another time your nostrils have been this cleared out. He flashes you a packet of cigarettes and, with a nod for an answer, a Bic is lit, and there’s a dog barking across the street at the two of you sitting on the driveway. The anticipation is ringing like silence, and the communication is broken by him checking the bottoms of his feet, thick with scar tissue and black asphalt, saying, “It’s too damn hot for March.” And then he describes running through broken glass, the meticulous surgical process it takes to fix these wounds, the time it took to endure not walking like an infant, when they found Rob in the bottom of a ravine after his lab rolled away, and he’s asking how late you can stay — now, on our fifth cigarette each — but he and you know it won’t be much longer now. You tell him about being away from here and accomplishing your own goals, and he’s interested, but won’t be willing to call a week from now about your progression — though the feeling is mutual between your life’s progression and feeling the weight of his musical masterpiece once again.

Glass Clouds II, however, will always be there for you when you need it. Cast from atop that Strange Mountain. It’s not going anywhere, and it only gets more emotional with time, resonating a heavy feel that encapsulates listeners on infrequent repeat. As memorable as the instrumentation is on the album, the way it’s conveyed also stays with listeners long after its end. Thurs, there is no need for continuous play or even a bi-yearly play, unless you’ve had a rough year. But when you do play Glass Clouds II again, there’s a purity to it beyond any finite measure of time.

Links: Exo Tapes

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