Mount Eerie | Ocean Roar (P.W. Elvrum & Sun, L.T.D.)

Mount-Eerie-Ocean-RoarYou are led, from place to place, with no real sense of consciousness, while vocals suggest dreaming and field recordings; it is really almost like a dream.

 

The Microphones, Phil Elvrum, or however you heard about him, Mount Eerie is one of the best artists out there if you ask me. Evolution is the name of the game, but it has to be organic. You have to grow over time, expand your horizons, but manage to do it in a way that makes sense, a way that helps the listener to follow along and enjoy your career, not just an album.

There are bands that come up with a new sound every record, never mastering one in particular, but Mount Eerie is not one of these acts. To be honest, though, I had a hard time getting over 2008’s Lost Wisdom. That record had a major impact on me at the time of its release. I had graduated from college and was in a period of transition, and something about that record made it my favorite of the year.

Earlier this year, however, Elvrum released Clear Moon, a disc that that seemed to continue the growth of Mount Eerie since the release of Wind’s Poem in 2009. That album added a whole new range of instrumentation and soundscapes that were unexpected after listening to the previous records. It laid the patchwork for Clear Moon, an album, which was recorded in Elvrum’s new studio, an old church, and utilized the textures of that the space provided. It was a challenging record, not one that you could easily have on in the background, paying it no thought.

Ocean Roar builds on that, but in a significant way. The depth of the record is such that even the press release states, “It acts as a counterpoint to the soft synth walls and landscape pondering of Clear Moon, … A total wall of blue-grey oceanic fog, a half remembered dream of a trip through dense old growth hills to the gnarly winter ocean, in the middle of the night, decades ago. This album is the audio equivalent of the blanket of thick dark water vapor that covers the Pacific Northwest for most of the year, revealing only brief glimpses of illumination.” Perhaps the perfect description for a record that really does transport you to another place. Listening the first few times, I found myself just lying in bed, closing my eyes, and falling into the record. I wanted to take notes, jot down ideas, but that almost seemed impossible as the album set it.

It starts with the haunting organs, a quick unexpected drop in of the percussion, then the phased-out guitars, into a track that feels best suited for a long drive—but then halfway through, the vocals take you to almost separate place with basic melody, one that exists only above the mix of the pulsing intro. “Pale Lights,” the first track on the album, leads the listener through what I could only describe as the probable sounds inside of Phil Elvrum’s head. The use of the space to record this nine-plus-minute track work incredibly well, too; the old church resonates the separate melodies, somehow distinctly creating what appear to be separate tracks on first listen. It feels like water vapor coming through the headphones, just as the publicist suggests.

That really is the feel of the album, though. You are led, from place to place, with no real sense of consciousness, while vocals suggest dreaming and field recordings; it is really almost like a dream. It takes more than one listen to truly hear the record. I have listened to it quite a few times myself, and I still don’t know exactly what to say.

All in all I think this album deserves a listen—a serious listen. Even if you have not been a fan of past Mount Eerie, I still feel this record could really appeal to you. It shows a huge growth in the sound of Elvrum, one that isn’t exactly easy to listen to, but also somehow strangely easy to listen to, given the actual recordings.

Right now, I would have to say this is one of my favorite albums of the year.  A+ | Alex Hodschayan

RIYL: The Microphones, Little Wings, Grouper

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