By Tom Randall
Hmm. I think it says something when the laziest member of the Collapse Board team is left to review a new release by Mount Eerie. What could have happened? It’s hard to believe it wasn’t leapt upon by Lucy or Scott or Hannah or Bridget or Wallace or Victoria or Bianca or Everett.
Maybe that’s because it speaks for itself. Is it going to surprise you to read that a Phil Elverum album is magical, immersive, fraught with despair and hope that is worn with resignation and honesty, and essential because of it?
While the production is very different and the songs less structured, it has the same economical execution that made Let England Shake great. Every stroke is so deft and controlled. Overdubs and harmonies roll in and out and elegantly sculpt the tune into subtle new directions.
It’s permeated by stillness, even when it roars.
Apparently, the record is about a particular place, the current home of P. W. Elverum, Esq. It’s probably just as much about ‘place’ in the abstract. Its repetitive restlessness, borne out in the quietly insistent looping riffs and melodies, is so evocative of the feeling you get when you think of a place you are connected to, for better or worse: a frozenness whose glassy contour is crazed by the grinding of thousands of specificities – friends, heartbreak, mundanity – across its surface.
When he reviewed Tago Mago, Scott Creney called it a universe, and said it was a wonder because of it. A realm of autonomous subjects swimming together and apart, thousands of time in an instant. And every one of these pieces is a story in itself, but they each coexist in perfectly balanced complexity as though it were written to be.
If so, then Clear Moon is an ecosystem. Every piece sums to something; something that feels real, within our ken. Half-remembered, somewhat feared. A feeling that spreads warmth across our midsection and triggers silent tears.
God bless the brain of Phil Elverum and his mutable band of lovers. Practically speaking, if you’ve found the Elverum oeuvre too intimidating to try, this is a great entry point.
This review comes just in time for the release of the follow-up to Clear Moon, Ocean Roar. We are nothing if not timely at CB.