by Chris Williams
Album: Wind’s Poem
Artist: Mount Eerie
Label: P.W. Elverum & Sun
Release Date: August 18, 2009
For Mount Eerie fans, or anyone who has heard Phil Elvrum’s distinctive style before, the sound is familiar. The playing may be more precise, and the recording quality much better, but the experimental lo-fi spirit remains from the first Mount Eerie LP released under Elvrum’s old moniker the Microphones. I listened to the old Microphones catalog in anticipation of this disc, and it narrowly escaped a bad review due to my expectations. Gone is the acoustic guitar; some stretches of the album even sound a little like Neil Young playing stoner metal, only the drums are hardly audible. Everything is so faint and muted, the melodies so fragile, that some of the greatest details of this record can be lost in a seeming wall of noise. I strongly advise headphones.
The album starts off with a rush of what seems like noise, but reveals itself to be deeply distorted guitars and crashing cymbals, which fade slightly to reveal Elvrum’s ghostly voice barely audible in the background. He seems to sing without actually moving any air. The first half of the record is beautiful, very slowly progressing, subdued, despite a few extreme dynamic changes. Instrumentation is minimal, but rich, and occasionally the metal guitar pounds out chords in the middle of the sparsest musical sections, cymbals clanging and pumping from heavy compression.
Elvrum’s vocals are difficult to understand throughout the album. Those lyrics that are discernible, are often foreboding – “My heart, will not stop thumping, the shapes in the dark, still look convincing” – or mystical – “Now the wind speaks, saying ‘hold on to something and watch it go, everything you love will end up on the breeze.'”
The second half of Wind’s Poem spoke to me much more than the first. I found the songs with clear lyrics and drum beats to be more compelling. My personal favorite song from the album, ‘Between Two Mysteries,’ begins with the hint of new age music, pads, dulcimers, stocatto guitar. His voice enters, then the drums, and for the first time on the album it sounds like a fairly conventional song, almost dancy, with lyrics as dark as ever.
If you can get past the unpredictable, almost alienating metal influences, and listen patiently for melodies to surface, you will embrace this album. Otherwise, I highly recommend The Glow Part 2 by the Microphones.
by Chris Williams