High Mountain

High Mountain

 Oakland, California, USA
BandAlternative

Biography

The new musical vision of longtime friends Mattia Borrani and Kerry
Wayne James, High Mountain traverses the peaks and valleys of raw
emotion with unvarnished boldness and candor. And if the duo’s self-titled
EP sounds like something of a departure from the meticulously orchestrated
psychedelia of Oslo — the trio including Borrani, James and Gabrial
McNair — it’s only natural.
“We wanted to make sure we kept it simple and focused on the song
and lyrics,” James says. “The past year I’ve been a guy going through
transitions in my life, both professionally and personally. I don’t know if it
was synchronicity or what, but I felt like Mattia was going through the same.
So I guess you’d call it chemistry.”
The California-based co-writers were on the same page when they
began work on High Mountain music in 2008, and by the time they recorded
the EP in Sausalito, California in ’09, the direction was clear.
“We wanted to concentrate on the individual tones rather than create a
lot of layers,” Borrani says. “The new music is still textural, but maybe not
so complex. We thought, ‘Let’s strip things down and focus on the content
of the songs.’”
It’s a confident approach from two songwriters and multi-
instrumentalists with impressive resumés. Borrani, a Hollywood-born, Bay
Area-bred singer-guitarist whose mother worked with Jan & Dean and who
spent a short time in the Mama & the Papas, co-founded Oslo with James
and McNair early last decade. In James, who’s been and currently a touring
band member of major label acts, he found a collaborator who shared an
affection for music with epic scope.
Oslo’s initial album in 2005 earned comparisons to legions of Britpop
greats, even if some reviews weren’t always flattering. “When we started,
we didn’t know what we were up against,” James says. “We made music
that was true to ourselves, but some called us copycats.” Oslo’s follow-up,
2007’s underrated “The Rise and Fall of Love and Hate,” exhibited some of
that frustration, but it did earn them a publishing deal, which was added
incentive for Borrani and James to continue to explore new directions.
“We wanted take a good look at where we were in our lives,” James
says, “how we’ve dealt with some of the challenges and losses, along with
where we’re going. We had been eating, living and breathing Oslo so much
that we didn’t realize the chemistry we had until we walked away. So it’s
been great for us to see what we can do outside of Oslo.”
The “High Mountain” EP, ventures into the same brooding, cinematic
territory as Oslo, but, especially in tracks like the bristling “Superstar” and
the aching “Fever,” the ratcheted-up sense immediacy is intoxicates. It’s
music that commands attention, and emotional investment.
Those two EP tracks have gotten some special studio attention as well
— the “Superstar (Andreas Lust Remix)” is the handiwork of Andy
Monaghan of Scottish rockers Frightened Rabbit, and “Fever” gets a beat-
addled reworking from Interpol’s Sam Fogarino.
High Mountain will appear on the horizon in 2011. Enjoy the
panorama.