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CD REVIEW: Round Mountain – Round Mountain
By Francesco Emmanuel - 08/04/2006 - 01:07 PM EDT

Artist: Band: Round Mountain
Album: Round Mountain
CD Review: So, this is a case where you can judge a book by its cover. Round Mountain’s self-titled debut looks great and sounds even better.

First off, the CD package is well put together, on the front, a somber picture of an aged gentleman sitting on a mountain slope, on the back, a picture of two boys. For all we know, it’s the brothers Char and Robby Rothschild when they were kids, two multi-talented musicians who have come together to produce this album.

The brothers hail from Santa Fe, New Mexico, and this album is a culmination of 14 years worth of material and spans 5 continents.

There’s no shortage of instrumentation on this album, and the sounds come from cultures far and wide. Robby Rothschild plays: bouzouki, percussion, drums, hurdy gurdy, leaves, mandolin, kora (West African harp), cello bass, djembe, tuppan and last but not least mandola. And wait, Char Rothschild plays: 5-string banjo, gaida (Bulgarian bagpipes), bombards, electric bass, tuppan, guitar, accordian, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, ney (Turkish flute), percussion and finally saz (Turkish lute). I mean, is there nothing these two brothers can’t play? Both graduated with BFA’s in Contemporary music from the College of Santa Fe.

Their musical inspiration comes from many places including: Appalachia, Brittany, Bulgaria, Ireland, Macedonia, New Mexico, New Orleans, the Roma people throughout the world, Turkey, Tuva, West Africa and Zimbabwe.

The opening track ‘Unknowing’ starts off ever so quietly, hauntingly it goes along with mandolin and soft hand percussions. Next comes ‘Raised Eyes’ with an enticing banjo lick, a solid beat and a great chorus hook. ‘You cannot wait’ reminds me of my home, I don’t know why, (as I’m from the Caribbean), but it’s a great song that really gets to me. Maybe it’s the line that just repeats ‘you cannot wait’. ‘The Dam’ displays a rather unusual vocal line, it fits however unorthodox it may be, but these brothers know what they’re doing, the post-chorus bridge breaks the song wide-open with such infectious rhythm. ‘The Burning Braid’ has a gypsy/eastern feel to it. And yet ‘The Queen’ delivers such a folksy vibe, with mandolin and perhaps banjo as well creating the mood.

The brothers harmonize so well, and naturally, they’ve played music most of their lives together, they have traveled to different parts of the world on their various musical journeys.

But this album is just a masterpiece from start to finish, they are joined by Jon Gagan on upright and electric bass who is most known for his work with Ottmar Liebert.

The songs are not overly processed, in fact this entire album sounds rather raw, and rugged in it’s perfection. Music in its purest form, music from the heart. I absolutely loved it. It’s been in my CD player all morning and I can’t get it enough of it. And I heard these guys are just great live too!

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