Will Schube let Ringo Starr hold his red slicker
No, I don’t only listen to Mount Eerie out of some misplaced hope that at some point something will click and Phil Elverum’s new project will conjure up the feelings I once felt while listening to The Microphones. Well, maybe I do. And maybe I only like Mount Eerie because of how seminal The Glow Pt. 2 feels, but that’s fine. Mount Eerie is something different—and that’s a good thing because there’s nothing more aggravating than an artist who plays bad incarnations of a former time under a new moniker. Mount Eerie isn’t as good as The Glow Pt. 2 (the best Microphones record, with It Was Hot, We Stayed Inside a close second) and that too is fine.
Mount Eerie’s catalogue is the sort of dirge-esque cold weather stuff that always seems to come along at the right time; for instance, “”This”, the first single from Elverum’s forthcoming Sauna, arrived after a few inches of unrelenting snow followed by more dreariness blanketed in 20 degree weather that signifies nothing more than the color gray. “This” is both unrelenting and glacial—quite a feat for a track that doesn’t reach the four minute mark. Female voices swirl around a pulsing organ line before Elverum’s shy voice subtly inserts itself without a moment’s notice. Pulsating woodwinds are eerily similar to Steve Reich’s Music For 18 Musicians and a sudden appearance by cascading guitars gives the track a jump solidified by the late appearance of percussion. The release of any Elverum track sans-context is relatively jarring—his music is perhaps perfectly antithetical to the single— but “This”, despite its vague title, is illustrative of Elverum’s mission to compose a soundtrack to winter’s unrelenting grayness (and emotional darkness). Accessible because of its place within this landscape, “This” resembles the long rest so characteristic of those long months.