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- Pre-Human Ideas by Mount Eerie
2 reviews. Add your own review.
"It's an embarrassment, a travesty". For once not my words but the words of this month's Crack magazine, who awarded this album 3 out of their regulation 20.
Their main bugbear appeared to be the computerised, autotuned vocals on these reworks of existing Mount Eerie songs. And it's true, your ability to stomach the album will depend on your ability to deal with autotune. Here, the vocals are autotuned to within an inch of their life, done as an artistic statement (rather than the original intention of the program to make wavering vocals sound in tune). It just seems to me like a terrible, terrible idea and maybe the fact that main Mount Eerie man Phil Elverum runs his own label has meant that there wasn’t anyone in the process of making of the record who said to him ‘please stop this madness’.
The real shame is that the music is really nice. I’m not a big enough Mount Eerie obsessive to tell you which song comes from which release and how they have been altered and if they are better or worse, but generally the sounds are an electronic version of his usual sprawling song structures. ‘The Place Live’ has real similarities to Laurie Anderson’s ‘O Superman’ whilst ‘I Say No’ and to a degree ‘Clear Moon’ are an odd sort of computerised, slowed-down doom metal. ‘House Shape’ has the sort of vaguely Beach Boys related melodies Gastr Del Sol were tinkering with towards the end of their career. ‘Yawning Sky’ is like a slo-mo take on some of Sufjan Stevens's recent digitized meanderings.
The album comes across as a modern day version of Neil Young’s notorious ‘Trans’. An inexplicable career move, oddly out of place robotic voices, hated by 99% of his audience, finding some admirers somewhere. However, despite my enjoyment of the music I won’t be one of them and it's solely down to that one element. Elverum sits on the front sleeve in a staged photo, coffee and donut and, oddly, a flower in place in front of his computer which shows the sound forms of his latest epic. If only the photographer had had the foresight to reach over and put Elverum’s cracked copy of autotune in the trash.
If none of this has put you off then you might be interested in the ltd. edition picture disc version of which there are only 250 copies.
6/10 Clem Customer review, 21st November 2013
So this Mount Eerie LP is a pretty major stylistic shift from the lo-fi folk/black metal/drone vein he's been mining for a fair while now. That is, aside from the first and last tracks which are organ tracks pulled out from dronier Mount Eerie songs to stand by themselves.
In fact, these songs are all reinterpretations of existing Mount Eerie songs, mostly off last year's stellar Clear Moon & Ocean Roar. The difference being that in stark contrast to Phil Elverum's usual strictly analogue recordings, these songs consist of synthesised strings, digital drums, MIDI horns, and vocals pushed through a shitload of vocoder. Some of the multi-part vocoded harmonies reach heights that the Guardian would describe as 'achingly beautiful' ('I Say No'). Some of them are jarring and slightly irritating ('The Place Lives').
The album will most definitely be of interest to those that are already fans of Phil's stuff, because it foregrounds the tension between the organic and technology etc. that so many of Phil's songs are about ("I know there's no other world/mountains and websites"). If you aren't already a Mount Eerie fan, though, this is not the album to start with. It's an experiment, and it sounds like one - the name's apt because these interpretations do mostly come off as ideas rather than full songs. Basically, the previous versions were all better.
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