The output of local label Hausu Mountain ranges as widely as the psychedelic folk of Eartheater‘s RIP Chrysalis (2015) and the assaultive techno of Davey Harms’s Cables (2016). The common thread linking most of its releases, though, is an aesthetic of studied avant-garde hermeticism: everyone on Hausu Mountain seems to be sliding down their own tunnel to their navel. Not only does it sound like Eartheater has never met Davey Harms, but you’d also suspect that neither of them has ever met anyone. The acts on the Hausu Mountain roster each seem to live in their own gloriously insular towers.
The three albums the label releases on Friday, October 14, communicate something that’s startling in this context: the people behind the music are acquainted with one another. Hausu Mountain is pitching them as a “Family Batch,” and two are solo cassettes from the label’s founders, Maxwell Allison (Mukqs) and Doug Kaplan (MrDougDoug). The third is by Natalie Chami (TALsounds), who plays with Allison and Kaplan in Good Willsmith.
Admittedly, the music doesn’t necessarily scream, “These artists all are in the same band, or in the same corner of the solar system.” Good Willsmith has a psychedelic jam-fest vibe, but little of that bleeds into the individual members’ solo work. Kaplan’s SOS Forks AI REM is a collage of video-game sounds and beats that’s reminiscent of chiptune. The first 30-odd tracks all run less than two minutes, so you feel like you’re rushing from level to level in some frantic Atari nightmare. It concludes with a few longer, mellower ambient cuts, as if the swarming space invaders suddenly and blissfully attained enlightenment.
The result is a lovely, staggering mess, with songs built out of wayward vocal swoops clipped short and beats that rev up only to sputter out. “Hair” revolves around a church-organ-like motif interrupted by dissonant keyboard figures and vocals that fray into wisps of devotional uncertainty: “Sometimes, I don’t even want to know,” Chami sings. If FKA Twigs’s sound were even more fragmented and synthetic, it might end up something like this—R&B for dreamy neurotic droids.
“Natalie and Doug are my two biggest influences,” Allison says, “not only because we’ve played together so much, but because I find their individual practices each inspiring to witness and take part in.” The Family Batch feels like a mutual-admiration love fest, not least because it isn’t especially stylistically coordinated or coherent. Hausu Mountain finds community in everyone listening to everyone else doing their own weird and isolated things.
Correction: This post has been edited to more accurately describe Natalie Chami’s composition process.