By Kiah Easton, Contributor
Key Tracks: “Synth 1”, “Piano 1”, “Huckleberry”
Mount Vision is the second solo album of Emily A. Sprague, the lead singer of indie-pop sensation Florist. When working alone, Sprague throws out the guitar, takes a break from the soft vocals and starts twisting some knobs. Mount Vision, as well as her previous album, Water Memory, is about as ambient and meditative as it gets. This work really pushes its listeners to fall asleep in the most creative ways. Try it out before you sleep at night and you won’t make it to the last track.
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The first song on the album, “Synth 1”, launches its listener into a thick, sonic cloud. An almost invasively-spacial synthesizer oozes into every empty crevice of your brain with its lush, intoxicating presence. Just as your eyes start to roll into the back of your head, a sweet, bubbly melody brings you back to your senses and reminds you to keep breathing. The melody abruptly speeds up and begins tripping over itself in an uncharacteristic manner, giving the track a moment of contrasting urgency. Once again stabilizing, it gently guides you out of the numbingly-foggy noises and into the next aural environment.
If “Synth 1” was getting lost in a deep, dark, musical forest, then “Piano 1” is stumbling into a beautiful meadow that invites you to stroll through its flowers. The track’s lonely piano melody has a complex and spontaneous rhythm that keeps even the most stoic listener squirming ever so slightly in their seat. With the absence of the droning synths that accompany most of Sprague’s songs, this track feels clear and bright in the context of the album. The layered piano intertwining feels like two dancers who come close to touching but always lurch away at the last moment. The highest keys on the piano play quietly, tickling at the back of your neck with their percussive meanderings.
“Huckleberry”, the only track not named after its musical instrument, really stands out of the mix as a step away from the pure ambience that Sprague’s audience is accustomed to. The track bustles and purrs with a more playful energy. An almost animal-like clicking circles around the listener as if possessing a mind of its own. As the melody jumps around, the atmospheric sounds conjure up a mossy, fairy-inhabited world within your head (picture the 1992 animated film FernGully: The Last Rainforest).
As stated on the cover of the album, recording took Sprague a mere two days to complete; this is apparent through its simplicity and improvisational nature. It’s safe to assume that Florist is Sprague’s primary concern, and her solo work serves as more of an exploratory and therapeutic side project. Sprague may just be testing the waters in both her early releases, but it would be interesting to see a more-developed and deliberate project come out of her experimentation.
With this piece of work, Sprague continues to embark on her solitary adventure through the world of synthesis. From Water Memory to Mount Vision, a shift in energy is apparent, one that mimics her change in environment, moving from the Catskills Mountains to the bustling streets of Los Angeles. Her solo project represents a more internal and direct form of expression, with Water Memory being much more organic and earthy and Mount Vision housing a bit more of an energetic buzz with an undertone of playfulness. As Sprague replaced her stars with city lights, her art responded accordingly.