Am Fost La Munte Și Mi-a Plăcut • La Vale [LP]
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La Vale by Am Fost La Munte Și Mi-a Plăcut on 180g colored vinyl.
Comes in a single sleeve with partial UV glossy finish on Dark Trans Blue w/ Multicolor Splatter vinyl and is limited to 300 copies worldwide. Also available at A Thousand Arms (US), Birds Robe Records (AU), Church Road Records (UK) & New Noise China (CN).
Releases on September 26, 2022.
We were impressed with this Romanian quintet when we last saw them at the 2019 edition of our festival. Their performance was a breath of fresh air: straight-forward, riff-centric instrumental rock, entirely unpretentious. Don’t get us wrong, we also love bands that court grandiose compositional styles and cerebral themes, but there’s just something fun about a band that takes a pragmatic approach, putting their efforts directly behind being loud, raw, and honest. Am Fost La Munte Și Mi-a Plăcut is exactly that type of band, and clearly endeared themselves to many in attendance, garnering an enthusiastic response to their set. We were of course intrigued to hear what their third album would sound like, and when we were finally able to earlier this year we knew we needed to be a part of this release.
A funny thing happened on the way to completing La Vale - the band that had established themselves as a matter-of-fact post-rock band with the focus firmly on the “rock” found themselves in the middle of some fairly philosophical thought processes. Founding member Vlad Enescu admits that the band was initially intended only as a semi-serious project at best, and that looseness translated into 2019’s La Deal, but for album three the members realized that Am Fost La Munte Și Mi-a Plăcut was something they were now doing in earnest, and they wanted their next release to reflect that. Going into the writing process, they were aiming for La Vale to be the “antithesis” of La Deal, but somewhere along the path it became less about how to perfectly execute a specific idea and more about discovering who they were as individual musicians and as a collective.
Drummer Stere Câmpean says that the writing and recording of La Vale was “... our concentrated effort to reach a refined expression of post-rock in a ‘traditional’ sense… [and] an opportunity to revisit our views on the aesthetics and philosophy of art.” He goes on to talk about how an art form like painting typically features a focal point, a specific characteristic that draws the viewer’s eye and drives the narrative. The band realized that what gives an artistic style like post-rock its greatest value is the way in which it is largely non-representational - a vast array of aesthetic ideas that become the property of the listener once the needle drops, and thus can go in an infinite number of directions. With this in mind, the band was able to break free of their initial focus and write exactly the album that had already existed within them. The result is, as Stere puts it, “a record that actually felt finished once we were [done] recording it… [it] reveals precisely who we are as artists and musicians, good and bad, strengths and weaknesses… it is a liberating moment, and it [has] an honest, undisguised quality, for us at least.”
As it happens, the Am Fost La Munte Și Mi-a Plăcut we get on La Vale is not too far from the version we all loved at dunk!2019, except a bit more focused and somehow even less pretentious, despite the wealth of deep thought that was poured into this album during the writing sessions. Sometimes a band is just built to rock out with few frills, and we welcome that with open arms and ears. Check out the first two and a half minutes of opener “Ne Cerem Scuze Pentru Disconfortul Creat” for a stellar example of no-nonsense, impactful mid-tempo melodic rock. It’s got a hook that can take up residence in your brain for an entire day and never wear out its welcome. Bathe in the glorious, airy fuzz-metal of “În Caz De Forță Majoră” to feel the same kinds of sensations you felt when you first fell in love with Pelican or Cloudkicker back in the day. Look to “Nu Mai Comandăm De La Ăștia'' and be reminded of how triumphant and inspired post-rock can be when it ascends to that elusive apex moment for even a handful of moments. Or, look at the closing track “Să Zică Și Băieții” for a textbook example of how to end an album with purpose and an empathic exclamation point. La Vale shows the band actually fulfilling the action described in their name - they took a long and challenging journey to the top of their own mountain, explored, discovered, and returned to tell of their enjoyment. We’re certain you’ll hear that message loud and clear.