Sometimes the second act is sweeter.
That is what happened when Matt Harmon and Kali Giaritta—formerly of the Ascetic Junkies—struck out on their own to become There Is No Mountain.
As great as The Ascetic Junkies' bluegrass whiskey stomp was—making them a Bend favorite for five years—the music of There Is No Mountain is even better. Gone is the bluegrass. Gone is the loud, sometimes sonic punk sound. In their place is an ultra-creative breed of gypsy folk and punk pop that defies traditional genre monikers and has even more to say than past Ascetic Junkies music.
That new sound needed a new identifier.
"The new name comes from the Donovan song [lyric] 'First, there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is,' says Harmon. "That lyric is, as we understand it, either a reference to a Zen koan or an adaptation of an old Eastern guide to meditation on a mantra."
The two nearly 30-year-olds have put together this new sound by spending a ton of time on the road. In fact, they've completed three U.S. tours via couch surfing. The people they've stayed with—including a very polite nudist—as well as the terrain they have traveled show distinct influences. But, they claim, not as much as playing together night after night; that familiarity has tightened their instrumentation and honed their talents. Even though Giaritta and Harmon now perfrom as a twosome, the resulting music is more robust and includes more danceable tracks. The first track on the duo's debut album, for example, is a merry gypsy pop punk song that features the beautifully strong voice of Giaritta and prickly quick guitar runs from Harmon. This mix of lively lyrics and frenetic tempo shifts create an adventurous experience.
Although they are returning home to Portland for a while, according to Giaritta, the open road is definitely calling them back already.
"It's something we love doing," says Giaritta. "And it seems to make people smile, so we figure it's a win-win." Harmon adds, "We also really love to travel, so the part of being in a band that most musicians find most grueling is the part that we find most exhilarating. We're always thinking up ideas for new projects and adventures."
For fans of the defunct Ascetic Junkies, There Is No Mountain offers some songs of the same likeability. But Harmon and Giaritta are very clear that the music is different. With more instrumental space in each song, the music is more pensive—a big indicator that the two have evolved into more mature musicians and songwriters. SW
There Is No Mountain
7:30 pm. Friday, June 14
The Tower Theatre
835 NW Wall St.
Tickets $14 at towertheatre.org