Guilt Mountain started as the bedroom recording experiment of Hudson Valley Scorpio Kate Larson, who wanted to prove to herself that she could create an album completely on her own. Having played various instruments in bands for years, she wondered what it could be like to go at it alone, accepting the personal dare and recording Tiger Hour in 2013. Recorded entirely with inherited and literally found-in-the-trash USB microphones, it was a slapdash lesson in basic home recording and songwriting, including maybe the hardest lesson of them all: that you should always record your drum tracks first. She recorded another collection of songs, Hey Witch in 2014, and started playing shows, accompanied sometimes by her friend Matt Ross on drums, and always by her arcade-won light-up toy power wand. At first she thought all this would satisfy her curiosity, but discovered she just wanted to keep digging.
For Rare Energy, she recorded with Christopher Daly of Salvation Recording Co. in New Paltz, New York, this time with Matt on drums and collaborator and friend Sarah Ayton on bass. The songs peak and dip, going from the tonal and burying distortion of “Fever” to the gentle and coasting clarity of “Slowing,” but always maintaining an honest wonder and forward stride. There’s a new focus in the songs, stemming from many hands invested in guiding them to their means. Kate learns to trust herself within them, leaving behind the manic dare of creating music alone, and entering into a brighter realm of examination and certainty.
A lifelong maker of personal zines, Kate is no stranger to sharing personal narratives, with her lyrics always landing in the realm of the confessional and autobiographical. The songs speak to her experiences, touching on topics of identity politics and queerness, chronic illness, abuse, and community support, as well as the usual suspects: love, anxiety, and just plain feeling like garbage. On “Rare Energy,” she stares down her own destructive patterns, laments personal and familial illness, examines her queerness, and volleys between what’s soft and what’s solid in a way that’s truly human, and sometimes jarring.
A project that started with a true beginner’s mind, Guilt Mountain has morphed and grown around itself over the years, branching outwards still.
Rare Energy (TL-106) will be released August 18, 2017, as a digital album and a limited edition cassette, on Team Love Records.