The Alps: III
Type Records

Comprised of Tarentel member Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, ex-Tussle member Alexis Georgopoulos (better known as ARP), and ex-Troll member Scott Hewicker, The Alps serves up a concise forty-one-minute set of progressive psychedelia on its debut studio-based recording III. At times, the San Francisco trio's music invites the by-now familiar appellation “psych-folk” but just as often the group opts for a heavier attack that renders the label inaccurate. “Cloud One,” for example, opens bucolically enough to invite the descriptor but the eventual emergence of electric guitar swarm places the song in a different category altogether. The album's psychedelic dimension is established from the start when a trippy blend of dulcimer (autoharp?), hand drums, and glockenspiel rubs shoulders with electric guitar in “A Manhã Na Praia.” The mood shifts with each song: “Hallucinations” opts for laid-back, druggy atmosphere with raw guitar howl and wordless vocals stretching themselves over a slow-motion groove that turns even trippier when the guitar attack swells in volume and rawness. “Trem Fantasma,” by comparison, is a ruminative evocation whose placid interweave of piano, bass, and glockenspiel conjures vistas of lush Italian countrysides coming to life on sleepy summer mornings, while “Labyrinths” presents five slow-burning minutes of atmospheric post-rock and “Pink Light” plunges down a rabbit-hole of blissed-out saxophone loops that calls to mind the systems-based music of (early) Philip Glass and Terry Riley. Near album's end, a heady swirl of voices, synthesizers, and guitars swoons through “Echoes” after which the aptly-titled “Into the Breeze” brings the set to a peaceful close. Though III is far removed from the style of the label's premiere releases RJ Valeo's September and Mokira's Album, anyone who's been following Type's evolution over the last year or two won't be greatly surprised to hear the UK imprint gravitating ever farther towards Digitalis and kranky territory on III.

October 2008