For some bands, there is a core vision and purpose that shines through from beginning to the end. For others, there is an evolution of an idea, a constant metamorphosis whose end and scope is unknown. For Moving Mountains, the evolution not only encapsulates their music, but a larger overarching concept of what defines ‘Moving Mountains’. That isn’t to say that the Purchase, NY quartet have an artier than thou complex, but it does touch on an evolving aesthetic undercurrent and a belief that a band can create an experiential vision that goes beyond music.
Formed in 2006 as an after school writing/recording project by Greg Dunn and Nick Pizzolato, the duo initially hammered out three songs in Dunn’s basement / recording studio. Pizzolato laid down drums while Dunn, a multi-instrumentalist and recording wiz kid, sang and played every other instrument. The songs got passed to close friends and somehow made their way onto a Live Journal community called the Post Rock Xchange where members were taken aback by the aggressively urgent, vocally driven, post-rock inspired songs. Buoyed by the unexpected praise, the Dunn and Pizzolato set out to track seven more songs for what would become Pneuma.
Like all young (and naïve) teenagers, they mailed CDs destined for demo bin oblivion to a handful of labels. As luck would have it, Deep Elm Records, actually listened to the CD and were completely floored. The label offered to release Pneuma and the band (the duo had since ballooned to include Mitchell Lee on bass and Frank Graniero on guitar) eagerly accepted.
Pneuma was released in February '08 and was met with a flurry of critical attention:
“Moving Mountains have burst onto the music scene with a brilliant debut. This is an album that will transcend time and genres. Pneuma exists on a higher plain than anything I've heard in quite a long time." – Indie Uprising
"There are times where you only need to hear 30 seconds of an album to realize that it's going to blow you away. Moving Mountains provide one of those moments with Pneuma, one of those rare and indelible moments that remind and affirm why it is you listen to music in the first place.” – Punknews.org
"Drop whatever you're listening to right now. Moving Mountains is better." – Absolutepunk
"Pneuma is the type of album that opens up the floodgates of new music experiences." – Decoy
The band spent the next few months performing with bands like The Dear Hunter, The Sleeping, Kevin Devine, Chairlift, Caspian and As Tall As Lions. It was during these shows that the band began to really envision what the Moving Mountains live experience should be. Influenced by large stage productions, the group began experimenting with live lighting environments that accented the wall of sound dynamic of their music. As Dunn recounts, “We've always approached music as something that should be felt, and experienced, not only heard. When we performed live, we wanted the audience to be engulfed by our set. That's why we put a lot of focus in the visual aspect of our music.”
In the summer of ’08, Moving Mountains hunkered down in Graniero’s basement to write the follow-up to Pnuema. If Pnuema represents the beginning of Moving Mountains the project, Foreword represents the beginning of Moving Mountains the band. Clocking in just shy of 40-minutes, the four-song epic plays out like a singular composition with multiple movements. The songs are denser, yet more focused and there is a finely tuned awareness of how the songs relate to each other. Much to their surprise, it wasn't only critics and existing fans paying attention when the band began releasing Foreword songs on the eva of a tour with Pompeii (Eyeball Records). The band’s name began turning up on “what we’re listening to” lists by members of Thursday, Straylight Run and Say Anything.
In addition to being the first Moving Mountains album to feature all four members, it also finds the band following in the footsteps of countless bands that have voluntarily opted to release their own music. Foreword marks the debut release by the band’s own Caetera Recordings label.
The vinyl edition of Foreword will be released on May 12, 2009 and features an exclusive remix of the song “Lights & Shapes” by Andrew Maury from The Remix Artist Collective. Maury has remixed songs for countless bands including Tokyo Police Club, Radiohead, The Arcade Fire and Ra Ra Riot.