Here is something very special indeed. A new Mount Eerie album is always something to be cherished but this one deals with the grief and loss suffered by Phil Elverum following the tragic passing of his wife. To put this sense of loss into his art ....well I just hope in some way it was cathartic for him. The results are almost unbearable - a tear-drenched simply recorded music on love and loss that is sure to be one of 2017's most important albums.
Vinyl LP £23.49 ELV040
LP on P.W. Elverum & Sun, Ltd. Housed in foil stamped heavy old style gatefold tip-on jacket with special Neenah “Slide” paper as the inner liner, silver on black, all the lyrics, + download card.
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Phil Elverum’s newest record is heavy with tragedy. What else can I say? I don’t want to over-analyse or examine, partly because Elverum himself has closed this record off from lessons and parables. Whether or not you’ve read the interviews and features detailing ‘A Crow Looked At Me Me’ and its story -- how Elverum wrote these songs, completely habitually, about the recent loss of his wife Geneviève Elverum to cancer -- it makes the burden he’s feeling both known and impossible from its first lines. “Death is real”, he begins before the music can even join him, eventually closing the song’s cycle with a suggestion that writing songs about tragedies does absolutely nothing: “It’s dumb / and I don’t want to learn anything from this”.
While not different in its music from many Mount Eerie albums, in that it features Elverum playing meandering tunes of guitar strums, piano chords and mumbles, this record communicates very differently. Where Elverum usually seems to sing about his place in muted environments, feeling small or massive against the marsh and mountains, this record is a conversation with family from the most real of home settings. He reads back stories and asks questions to his wife and young daughter, the music feeling like an extension of notepad sketches he wrote in hospital visits and home. In interviews Elverum has said that he released the record largely because that’s what he’s used to doing, and it’s not unusual the record to detail plainspoken privacies that you perhaps never hear in songs ever.
It is, of course, an extremely difficult record to listen to. There are few metaphors or analogies -- simply lines that detail suffering in their totality, like “Our daughter is one-and-a-half/you have been dead eleven days”. Rather than creating another world, the record puts the listener between Elverum and the creaking house he’s recording from. My main takeaway from it is that I want to send Elverum all the love I have -- hearing him sing about living after this death, and the ways in which death is “not for making into art”, makes any rating and description feel futile.
9/10 Jay 26th January 2018
I heard this album while i was stoned off my mind. It was the worst trip I've had in a long while. This album is the most devastating and tragic album i've heard in my 40 years of being alive. When i finished it my face was contorted (literally) with utter despair and my soul was left crushed like a cockroach underneath an angry chef's safety boots.
All the intricacies and fluff of typical songwriting are deflated to raw tragedy: it’s just a painfully frank Phil Elverum pouring his guts about losing his wife, Genevieve. He drags you down to the depths of his sorrow and brings you on a day-to-day journey with him and their infant child coping with the death of their wife and mother. I cannot stop listening to it even though it eats into my soul a little each time i do.
10/10 Sam 12th May 2017
A new kind of artistry. Phil Elverum says everything as it is without any embellishments. It's extremely effective and intensely emotional.
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