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Mt. Eerie: Lost Wisdom

Mt. Eerie: Lost Wisdom

Label:PW Elverum @ Sun
Release Date:2008

By Brandon Soderburg | Posted 10/15/2008

Since Mount Eerie, the 2003 follow-up to pretty much certified indie classic The Glow Pt. 2, Phil Elverum has switched his band's name from the Microphones to Mount Eerie, started selling his music almost exclusively through his web site, and released a impressive mess of singles and full-length oddities with little interest in how they're digested. This year has already seen the rerelease of The Glow Pt. 2 and a new Mount Eerie EP, Black Wooden Ceiling. The EP is an unexpected homage to black metal, a halfway point between all the nice stuff expected from Mount Eerie and the trebly heaviness of metal's most evil subgenre.

At first glance, Lost Wisdom, one of two even newer releases--the other one, Dawn, is now available from Elverum's web site and is in stores next month--looks to be similarly heavy. The title is the same as a classic Burzum track, and the cover is an ink-washed image of a burning shack. But this collaboration with Julie Doiron and her guitarist Fred Squire is closer to what fans expect from Elverum.

Lost isn't loud and booming--those signature lo-fi Phil Spector drums are nowhere to be found--but there's something equally cinematic in the way it translates epiphany and understanding with voice. Elverum and Doiron's duets make the uncertain search for and the joyous arrival at meaning palpable by singing slightly off from each other on verses and coming together perfectly for an encouraging chorus.

"Voice in Headphones" starts with a frustrated verse from Elverum ("every time I get it settled, you excite it") that is answered by the two singing "It's not meant to be a struggle, uphill" and some slinking guitar. "O My Heart" also uses the chorus to exclaim newfound insight about the past--"I thought you would be as big as a whale"--a sentiment that contrasts with Elverum's solo mumbles during the verse.

Dawn lacks that contrast. Elverum strums harder than Squire and, without Doiron's hopeful voice, it's a little darker--a fact especially obvious on the three Lost Wisdom songs that show up on Dawn in more insular forms. The Dawn version of "Voice in Headphones," in particular, sounds less like someone arriving at revelation and more like someone trying to will an idea they don't believe into fruition.

"Moon Sequel," a follow-up to The Glow's breakup song "The Moon," is on the verge of exploding as it derails when Elverum repeats "you're gone" over and over. Songs are bitter and confessional but never cloying. "My Burning" confronts self-loathing and anger ("as revenge for my burning, I burned the whole world and was warm for a little while"), while other songs are open and empathetic ("Woolly Mammoth's Mighty Absence" is the unofficial, happier sequel to "The Moon"). It's a broad range, and there isn't so much as a moment wasted in this year's avalanche of Mount Eerie music.

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