I listened to a brand new album! Mount Eerie’s Clear Moon came out on Monday and I’ve been listening and I think its really special. Like Phil Elverum’s other work, its very atmospheric and distinctive. I think the restraint in his voice and the understated delivery combined with that big cacophony of sometimes chaotic and sometimes harmonic noise is so evocative. Pretty much everything I’ve ever heard by him has made me feel like I’m inside a tent during a thunderstorm.
This album is the first of two parts, with the second “bigger (weirder) sounding companion” coming out this September. The first song, ‘Through the Trees pt. 2 ‘is spectacular. Its the most beautiful poetry illuminated by the most beautiful sound scape; the declaration of a thoughtful songwriter.
“I meant all my songs
not as a picture of the woods
but just to remind myself
that I briefly live”
I love the directness of this statement in a song, the certainty in describing his work not as a recreation of but as a reminder of life. This clarity continues later in the song when the instruments are pulled right back and Elverum delivers these lyrics
“From now on I will be perfectly clear:
There’s no part of the world more meaningful
and raw impermanence echoes in the sky.”
This first song sets the tone and intention for the rest of the album. It is an album about surroundings, about nature and the city and about the writer in the centre of it; his perception and expression of the world around him. In this sense it really reminded me of This Is Water, a commencement address by David Foster Wallace. This speech is all about making the choice to be consciously aware of yourself in the world, and I think Mount Eerie’s album deals with that directly. Both songs “the Place Lives” and “the Place I Live” speak of the impossibility of taking yourself out of this world when observing it. The difficulty of holding on to the awareness of yourself as the centre, and the letting go of your centrality to it.
The first lyric that stood out for me on this album was in this first song “I know there’s no other world: Mountains and websites”. The union of the natural and the virtual, a space that so much modern alternative music inhabits. So many people make music that worships the outdoors and are dependant on technology to make that music and on the internet to distribute it. In ‘the Place I Live’ Elverum urges himself to “Behold”, but sees nothing. “Rocks and water and wood not speaking to me.” The female vocals create an angelic glow, accentuating lyrics and images whilst synthesisers interject quietly beneath. At no point are technology and nature at odds in this album, nor do they necessarily ever need to be. Mount Eerie creates a space where the two are sublimely and quietly fused.
I like how unified the album is as a piece of work, how themes and images recur and how it drifts calmly from track to track. Its a dense and textured album that at times can feel difficult to keep a hold of, especially as it doesn’t have the same emphasis on percussion that The Microphones’ album’s had. But I think the lyrics provide a real structure that elevate the album to an insightful and inspirational collection of songs.