Field Recordings

Mount Eerie Plays 'An Absurd Concert To Nobody'

"We just played an absurd concert to nobody," Mount Eerie's Phil Elverum says, as he faces a sea of empty red seats at the Folger Shakespeare Library's gorgeous Elizabethan-style theatre in Washington, D.C., just across the way from the Supreme Court. Serendipitously, a group of schoolchildren had toured the oak halls of the library just minutes before, and would take cover in each other's coats from the gray rain outside. We needed only to tape their gleeful yelps to match the recorded version of "Ocean Roar," heard on the album of the same name — just one of two stirring collections Mount Eerie released in 2012.

Both Clear Moon and Ocean Roar are massive and atmospheric records — not at all strange bedfellows in Elverum's sonic vocabulary — but they both communicate his life-affirming, death-obsessed mysticism like never before. "Ocean Roar" is a smart tangle of words; its alternate stories oddly complement and complicate each other, while telling of lost thoughts and wandering souls. On record, the song chimes with guitars and drums that subdivide the dreaminess, but at the theatre, it's just Elverum, a nylon-stringed acoustic guitar and touring band members Allyson Foster and Paul Benson singing soft harmonies at his side.

Credits

Producers: Mito Habe-Evans, Lars Gotrich; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videography & Editing: Mito Habe-Evans, Christopher Parks; Special Thanks to the Folger Shakespeare Library; Executive Producers: Anya Grundmann, Keith Jenkins.

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