Alps, The - III [LP]

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Originally released in 2008 by Type (UK), III was, in fact, The Alps' third release ' the first two being CDR releases for the Root Strata and Digitalis labels ' but represented the group's first proper studio recording.

At turns luminous, at others cavernous, 'III' is a beatific collision of sounds and influences that show the group, like castaways on some hazy archipelago, weaving a musical brocade that is richly evocative, deeply imagistic and from another place. III is psychedelic mind music as suited to contemplating the void as it is for dreaming up distant, otherworldly journeys. It is music with far-off places in mind, suggestive of a transnational Paul Bowles epic.

Upon its release, III was a staple on College Charts and garnered no faint praise from underground publications like The Fader, Dusted, Other Music, even Rolling Stone. They were also nominated for the Best Band category for the San Francisco Weekly's Year'End List. Not bad for a band that doesn't tour.

Comprised of Alexis Georgopoulos aka ARP (RVNG Intl/Smalltown Supersound), Jefre Cantu'Ledesma (Type), who runs the Root Strata imprint, and visual artist Scott Hewicker, The Alps get together when they can. Though III was recorded when each of the band's members lived in San Francisco, now only Hewicker lives in SF, while Georgopoulos and Cantu'Ledesma call New York and Berlin home, respectively.

'A Manha Na Praia' opens things in shimmering fashion. A glistening coastal mantra, it is the upbeat beginning of a profound group journey into exciting unknowns, suggesting Manuel Gottshing sitting in with Lula Cortez & Ze Ramalho before descending into the kind of feedback drone that would make Keiji Heino blush with envy. The epic 'Hallucinations' lifts off into the mist like a plane carrying Franco Battiato, Goblin and Ariel Kalma. 'Cloud One' stays there, paying homage to Florian Fricke, hovering comfortably floating above the Earth in a transcendent state of sublime contemplation. 'Trem Fanstasma' seems like a hint that perhaps all is not as rosy as it appears. The seductive, eerie modal piece recalls Morricone or perhaps a lost Jean-Claude Vannier session. What has been foreboding finally becomes clear on 'Labyrinths' which recalls the dark elegance of Goblin, Serge Gainsbourg and the supernatural horror of Nicholas Roeg's 'Don't Look Now'. The rarefied airspace of 'Echoes' suggests Panda Bear collaborating with Alejandro Jodorowsky while 'Pink Light' is Terry Riley bathed in, well, soft pastel pink light. Concluding with a pastoral take on the album's main motif, 'Into The Breeze' returns full circle, gliding through a breezy meadow riding into the sun.

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