»Dog Mountain« is the second release by the Zurich-based producer and composer Laurin Huber on Hallow Ground. After last year’s »Juncture« saw the Edipo Re co-founder work mostly with synthesizers and programmed rhythms, the four tracks are much more restrained, drawing on tape loops and feedback, recordings of acoustic guitar and synthesizers such as the Korg MS-10 as well as field recordings that relate to the overarching topic that informed the making of the record. While »Juncture« had previously aimed at deconstructing the binaries and dualities that shape our lives and thinking, »Dog Mountain« is dedicated to geographical divisions that result from political processes and social constructions. »›Here‹ means one nation, ›there‹ another,« writes Huber in a literary piece that accompanies the record. »Being in sound, such a separation seems odd.«
While treating the metaphor of the border as a »membrane, registering and translating the vibrations of its surroundings« and thus as something that is constantly (re-)defined, maintained and defended however, the artist also takes into consideration that »one cannot escape one’s standpoint,« as he puts it. The music on »Dog Mountain« may transcend and overcome certain borders, but it does not deny the realities that they impose on each and every one of us – whether in our political lives or in the realm of sound. This is mirrored in Huber’s engaging in the structural and sonic interplay of repetition and difference. Working with slowly evolving and modulating elements that are exposed to slight shifts, »Dog Mountain« puts a focus on the interaction between small elements that together form a bigger whole which is marked by constant evolution and change.
Opener »Raja« (»border« in Northern Sami and Finnish) starts off with a two-note melody played on an out-of-tune guitar. Different field recordings and synthesizer sounds drop in and out of the mix until the dynamic shifts and Huber starts playing more notes on his instrument, thus increasing the tension. It’s a meditation on minimalism, but also a piece that mediates between notions of what constitutes the difference between noise and music or referentiality and abstraction in sound. After »Nickel« (named after a Russian monotown near the border to Norway) dedicates itself to explore the friction between hissing white noise and melancholic tape loops, »A Town Is Not a Town« (a phrase taken from the documentary »Kiruna – Rymdvägen«) structurally mirrors the experiment of »Raja« with very different sonic means.
Closing the record, »Storskog-Borisoglebsk« (the title refers to the northernmost land border between Schengen-Europe and Russia) is the longest and most challenging piece, working with both long-form drones and musique concrète elements. It proposes a synthesis of the opposites that are explored patiently and with much attention to detail throughout this record.
released July 30, 2021
Composed and recorded by Laurin Huber
Mixed by Rolf Laureijs
Mastering by Lawrence English
Artwork by Michael Bodenmann