Peru’s Montibus Communitas are masters of creative instrumental music with an eye to the natural world. Past releases have fallen under the umbrellas of world music, acid folk, and neo-psychedelia, but they extend far beyond those definitions, incorporating everything from jazz instrumentation to electronics. In addition to their immense range of sounds, the group has honed a distinct philosophy. Their newest release takes on a register of spirituality: entitled The Pilgrim to the Absolute, it intends to take us on a metaphysical pilgrimage.
Each track comprises its own separate journey, and all are connected by a thread of natural sounds. The first part of the pilgrimage transports us to a forest with the sound of a brook and birdsong. From here, electric sounds emerge; reverberant guitar, flanger, and some synth, as the track slowly sprawls into a droning acoustic-electric blend. But as soon as we’re tempted to call this work ambient, it departs from its original space and mounts in structure, speed, and intensity, with a climax in the second half of the predominantly acoustic, “The Pilgrim at the Shrine.” Driving strings and a steady, layered percussive section culminate in a manic outpouring of sounds that include indistinguishable human shouts.
By the end of the piece—at the conclusion of the title track—we’re back in a place of calm, overcome by the wash of a new set of ambient sounds. Throughout each shift, the natural sounds that were there at the outset are never lost, only transformed. We go from birdsong and flowing water to cicadas and back again, creating a fluid motion through time and space. Meanwhile, the instrumental and the natural each shift between occupying foreground and background, more than a few times coalescing on the same plane. Living things becomes instruments, and instrumental sections come to life as part of the landscape.
Every track on the album introduces a new environment, and the album is rife with contradiction—it’s organic but wholly composed, improvised but also heavily structured in parts, and each track breaks from the last in its instrumentation and structure. But the cohesion of the album, in its even transitions and kneading of the instrumental into the natural, draws a vision of the absolute from these relative pieces. The immensity of this vision is staggering.
The Pilgrim to the Absolute is now available from Beyond Beyond is Beyond—on glow-in-the-dark vinyl, no less. Stream the full album below.