From the Caves of the Iron Mountain is an album recorded inside the Widow Jane Mine in the Catskill Mountains. The artists featured on the album are Tony Levin (King Crimson, Peter Gabriel), Jerry Marotta (Peter Gabriel, The Indigo Girls), and Steve Gorn (Glen Velez and Jerome Robbins' New York City Ballet).
From the Caves is a very John Cage-ish sort of an album, but the primarily difference from Cage's work is that there is a /mix/ of background ambience and sophisticated instrumentation in the music. The album opens with just the background noise in the caves, illustrating exactly what the ambience is like, followed by the interplay between Levin's Chapman Stick, Marotta's Taos Drums, and Gorn's Bansuri Bamboo flute. The instrumentation is minimalist and subtle, and the natural reverb, the noise of the crickets, the sound of water, all add to the beauty of the music.
The flute makes the album very "eastern" sounding, and the accompanying drums have a primal feel to them. Levin "holds down the bottom" while playing some cool riffs every so often. His is the only instrument that could be classified as "rock" and the contrast enhances the quality and mood of this album. The music could be best described as Eastern-jazz.
The recording is binaural, which means that when you hear it over the headphones, you will be listening to exactly what was heard in the caves. I personally didn't notice that much of a difference between using headphones and using a good stereo system.
Some of the tracks could easily serve as sound track to a Tim Burton movie. This is not an album you can listen to sitting down (unless you're a music fanatic and interested in the technicalities), but it's definitely one you can pop in your car as you drive cross-country.
In the video, which shows how the album From the Caves of the Iron Mountain was made, not only do you get to see how the recording was accomplished amidst the caves, but also the interplay between the three musicians who recorded the album, which is fascinating at times.
It's great to see faces put to this recording, which makes it seem all the more down-to-earth. There is motivation given for use of the unique instruments in the record, which clearly brings out the passion in the players as they record this unique piece of music.
The PR info I got has the comment: "From the Caves of the Iron Mountain is such a special project, in that it encompasses an atmosphere, a place so special that its presence is felt in every note." Watching the video and listening to the album in the quiet of my room, it almost feels like you're in the Widow Jane Mine listening to Levin, Marotta and Gorn do their thing.