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Speck Mountain Bio

Speck Mountain have been categorized as space-rock, dream-pop, even shoegaze, but co-leaders Karl Briedrick and Marie-Claire Balabanian like to call their music “ambient soul.” Not a bad description for songs that often suggest a divine marriage between melody and drone, even as they flirt with the smiling demons of old-school indulgence, and the redemptive angels that stir in their wake. Briedrick and Balabanian, having only made two records, already have a strong sense of identity as a band, and they’re not shy about it.

Ask them what they’ve learned so far in their short careers, and the answer comes quickly back: “Don’t compromise your vision and don’t let anyone tell you that the way you want to do things isn’t valid.”

Try to get some insight into their pre-Speck Mountain pasts, and the two of them almost seem to start talking about the same childhood--adrift in eerily similar suburban vacuum-lands outside of Detroit and L.A., respectively. “There was no real culture to speak of and there were very few people with which to interact… In my early teen years I began to feel incredibly distant from my home environment,” explains Balabanian. But they both see the inertia and blankness of their formative years as key motivating force behind the creative urge that got them started in music and continues to fuel them as a band. As Briedrick puts it: “I’ve always prioritized my inner life.”

Self-described “musical soul mates,” Briedrick and Balabanian write as a team, communicating in intuitive, womb-curled melody, exploded texture, spiky rhythm. Balabanian, all of 5’ 4”, also keeps a full-sized Aretha loaded in her throat like some kind of ungodly spring reverb, but she’s careful not to abuse the capacity, only letting it uncoil fully when the moment is right. On the forthcoming, Some Sweet Relief, the songs have been filled out with piano, organ, sax, and vintage effects, the mixes booby-trapped all over with headphone-happy detail. Live, this new material projects a loose, narcotic swagger, taking off from atmospheric majesty into full-on hypnotic assault. Speck Mountain are so excited about it they won’t even be phased by the dreaded, “So, what’s your new record about?” question.

It doesn’t hurt that they have a good answer: “Desire and Fidelity.”

Now signed to Carrot Top Records for the world, Briedrick and Balabanian continue to run the Burnt Brown Sounds label out of Chicago.

 

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