Portland folk-pop band Ascetic Junkies may have undergone a name change, but that doesn’t mean we should be alarmed. Core members Kali Giaritta and Matt Harmon are dropping the name—and three or so members—in favor of some power-duo goodness. Henceforth, they shall be known as There is No Mountain.
“Owl Hymn,” the slow-burning first glance at the duo’s new direction, showcases the husband and wife team’s continued knack for churning out folky pop tunes, albeit with a twist. The four-plus-minute cut bashes barebones percussion and frenzied acoustic guitar evoking the African influence seen in major indie acts like Vampire Weekend and the Dirty Projectors. The subtle handclaps and Harmon’s bouncing guitar complement Giaritta’s soft vocals, giving the song a serene vibe despite the moments of quick, brash handwork. Although the song is definitely a refreshing taking on traditional Americana—embedded with more than a little modern pop sensibility—the tune doesn’t wander far from remnants of music’s past. (I’m thinking a touch of Graceland perhaps?)
When Giaritta tenderly spouts “you deceive me,” it almost seems like she’s referring to the duo’s own music—it’s certainly not what you expect from the beginning. There Is No Mountain will hit the road in mid-April for a string of shows across the United States. Portland has yet to make the list.