Speck Mountain are an ambient-soul band possessed as much by the grit of southern soul as the spell of infinite drones. Co-leaders Karl Briedrick and Marie-Claire Balabanian provoke each other with intuitive, womb-curled melody, exploded texture, and spiky, strutting rhythm—and so far I’m just talking about the guitars. Marie-Claire also keeps a full-sized Aretha loaded in her throat like some kind of ungodly spring reverb, but has the sense to only let her uncoil just enough, never overdoing it. Karl and Marie-Claire fill out the songs with lyrics in thrall to the mysteries of compulsion, and the ache and rapture of giving in.
Sonically Speck Mountain are in thrall to vintage effects and recording techniques, although they’re always looking for the future rather than the past. Their studio mixes are subtle and painstaking, booby-trapped all over with headphone-happy detail. Their live sets project a loose, narcotic swagger, taking off from atmospheric majesty into full-on hypnotic assault.
Karl and Marie-Claire continue to run the Burnt Brown Sounds label out of Chicago