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Mount Eerie: No Flashlight: Songs of the Fulfilled Night

Mount Eerie: No Flashlight: Songs of the Fulfilled Night

Label:P.W. Elverum and Sun Ltd.
Release Date:2005
Genre:Indie Rock

By Raymond Cummings | Posted 9/14/2005

In order for Phil Elverum to move into the next phase of his career, the Microphones had to die a messy death, and the birth of his new outfit Mount Eerie had to be correspondingly difficult. So he conceived Microphones’ 2003 album—portentously titled Mount Eerie—as a complicated, collaborative epic tragedy. He released Microphones’ aimless, mediocre Live in Japan. He shifted operations from K Records to his own label, issuing the first Mount Eerie recordings in limited-edition vinyl formats. And he’s selling No Flashlight and SINGERS as elaborately packaged vinyl albums with CDs included. Such are the lateral moves of an Anacortes, Wash.-based indie-rocker uncomfortable under the spotlight the Microphones attracted.

On No Flashlight, Elverum’s still thinking out loud about the nature of existence, without much excitement. Sonically, Elverum tiptoes cautiously and tepidly—the steel-percussion and horn-y shower of “The Universe Is Shown” and the rolling metal thunder of “The Moan” excepted. “No Inside, No Out” accumulates percolating layers—scattered percussion, one-two bass drum rum-pum-pum, and bubbling, rusty guitars topped with glistening pianos. But just when this shimmer sounds primed to overpower Elverum’s singing, a promising climax vanishes. Multitracked Elverum hum and a crisscrossing bass line form the crux of “Stop Singing.” Over this gentle rattling, he ponders the possible creative benefits of silence and inactivity, his tone quiet and slightly fearful. Overall, Flashlight is disappointing, as Elverum seems determined to underachieve musically and dither lyrically. He drops lyrical hints of surprises at the outset, but nothing much happens if you make the trip.

At the other end of the spectrum, SINGERS’ all-inclusive nature is downright celebratory, collecting Elverum-powered group sing-alongs as a sequel of sorts to the 2002 Microphones b-sides/sods catch-all Song Islands. A messier version of “I Can’t Believe You Actually Died” from Islands sports a lengthier intro, while the new “Ut Oh! It’s Mourning Time Again” also makes dead-buddy lemons into call-and-response lemonade, squeezing a disjointed fuzz-guitar solo in the middle. Elverum opts not to edit out the prerecording chatter of his participants—70 of them over the course of the nine tracks—giving SINGERS a relaxed feel that the dark, all-Elverum No Flashlight sorely lacks.

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