Formed in 2010, Magic Mountain High, the improvisational project cum left-field supergroup comprising of Move D and Juju & Jordash, has thus far been largely a live concern. The trio have commited themselves to wax on two occasions, receving considerable acclaim on both, but there has been the nagging suspicion that the combination of these three hugely talented musicians contained potential that had yet to be fully realised. One could justifiably wonder whether or not the improvisational analog jams that had unfolded during the group’s many sets across Europe were potentially ill-suited to the confines of anything approaching a traditionally structured Dance music release. Across four accomplished and frequently enthralling tracks, the ‘Tiny Breadcrumbs’ EP on Off Minor records puts any of these concerns to bed.
Already firmly entrenched in the left-field of the underground through their work prior to forming the group, Move D and Juju & Jordash have to date used Magic Mountain High as an outlet to further delve into the wildest abstractions of their creative imaginations. Whilst the music produced in this collaborative guise is unerringly inventive and open ended, the one common denominator underpinning it all is the consistent use of analog equipment. Certainly this fact unto itself is nothing special given the current trend for ‘keeping it real’ with lo-fi kit, but the fruits of this project’s labour thus far have mercifully avoided any of the tiresome navel gazing that this approach can often result in. Opening track ‘Suub’ is a stylistically rather spartan affair, consisting of no more than a handful of elements, that exudes a vitality that belies its relative minimalism. A droning theremin hovers unsettlingly around mid-range throughout, with a loose and off beat groove providing the rhythmic anchor to put this one vaguely in the ‘techno’ category of your favourite online retailer. Little changes from start to finish, yet given the organic nature of the component parts, there is a spontaneity that renders ‘Suub’ an engagingly queasy and tense listen.
Undoubted highlight ‘Riptide’ is a made up of a similarly meagre amount of parts, yet unlike ‘Suub’ it finds MMH taking their sound far away from the latter track’s jerky claustrophobia and into wonderfully expansive territory. A central refrain persists for the entirety of the track’s well earned 9 and a half minute running time which, paired with a purposeful yet understated kick, grounds the odyssey of moods and atmospheres explored. Just using subtle changes and tones in the pads, slight shifts in the bass, and an impressive command of dynamics befitting of three of House and Techno’s more musically inclined minds, ‘Riptide’ goes places that are as variously serene and tranquil as they are fevered or eerie. Such studied minimalism and attention to detail may not sound like especially sexy stuff, but the end product is a spectacular excursion that never once outstays its welcome.
‘Avalanche’ begins in frantic fashion, with flurries of kicks flying in and out of the mix over dense beds of snares. Persistent gusts of wind-link FX give the track an mountainous atmosphere befitting of its title, as MMH keep things loose yet rugged. The track’s latter half finds the wind intensifying, the drums speeding up and the bass distorting intermittently, to create a heady, heavy vibe that could well see this cut being drawn for by DJ’s looking to inject a little manic energy into their sets.
Closing track ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina (No Compromise Mix)’, most closely occupies the jazzy, refined Deep House ambience favoured by Move D, with seven minutes of spacious and moody vibes. Yearning pads shift pitch lazily and the rhythm section gallops along at barely sweat-breaking pace. A leisurely sojourn into the fringes of after-hours chill out territory, it remains interesting through its refusal to slouch in to repetition, a consistent strength of the release as a whole.
With an album likely on the cards for later in the year, ‘Tiny Breadcrumbs’ is a salivating taste of what is to come from Magic Mountain High. Speaking to Hyponik in 2013, Move D waxed lyrical on his love of jazz, and this enthusiasm for the genre’s freeform experimentalism evidently extends to the recorded output of his collaborative project. Neglecting studio wizardry or showy breakdowns, Magic Mountain High prove that quality playing and ambition still come up trumps.
‘Tiny Breadcrumbs’ is out Monday 27th January on Off Minor Recordings. Pre-order it here.
Words: Christian Murphy