Review of Mount Carmel [12k1090]

Tone Shift (.NET)

American multi-instrumentalist (specializing in steel guitar) Michael Grigoni aka M. Grig has just released his fourth full-length, and first for 12K, Mount Carmel. From the amorphous opening of Call he brings a laidback, almost a hybrid of ambient bluegrass, in sensibility, to the listener. By combining gentle wafting drone and delicate strings this is a warm wind over the landscape of your senses. His warming sound is (dare I say) rootsy, especially as expressed on the title piece.

For the longest time 12K has plucked new work with a delicate touch, but nothing quite like this before, the overall program speaks of something altogether of the American heartland so to speak, and given the artist’s relocation from the Cascades to the Smokie Mountains may have had its effect (how could it not?). It’s a portrait of a place, whether you’ve ever been or not, whether sub/conscious or conceptual, it’s all there. Grigoni’s background is in ethnomusicology, and its’ clearly indicative of his style on Mount Carmel. You will be lulled by his smart and sensitive fingering and low-range ambience.

The way notes are curved and bent on Capistrano, in its gentle flourish, almost harkens to the Hawaiian islands sounds my grandmother played when I was a small child in the 70’s. The warm atmosphere is as vivid as a great watercolor painting, with a tender shyness that remains toothsome. This has as much in common with ambient music as it does with folk, and perfectly blurs the lines, so much so that I even find it difficult to continue typing, it’s that soothing – but less in a sleepy way, more of a fresh breath of mountain air.

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