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Mount Eerie's Phil Elverum.
Mount Eerie's Phil Elverum. Wheat Wurtzburger
Phil Elverum is drawn to forces that are bigger than himself. Throughout his discography as Mount Eerie and The Microphones, death is often personified as an unconquerable mountain, while booming tympanis signal frenzied funeral marches and failed relationships serve as metaphors for mortality. On his solo acoustic recordings, Elverum's vulnerabilities become even more pronounced, and those forces that are bigger than him swallow him whole. At first listen, Mount Eerie's latest album, Wind's Poem, buries its themes under a swarm of distortion and synths. But, really, he's found a way for the sound to swallow the world whole.
Elverum's inspiration for Wind's Poem comes from two strange, seemingly disparate places: David Lynch's television series Twin Peaks and black metal. Both feature otherworldly ambiance and an estrangement from life that's sometimes reaffirming. You can hear the detached noir-lounge of the Twin Peaks soundtrack in the warbled synths that lace the album, but Lynch's abstract cinematography also seems to translate here as shadowy echoes of sound.
Still, fans who follow Mount Eerie know that Elverum has become a real metalhead in recent years. Last year's Black Wooden Ceiling Opening hinted at this — it re-imagined old songs as if they were Neil Young & Crazy Horse tracks performed by hardcore punk rockers. But Wind's Poem isn't a constant blistering buzz of guitars. Instead, Elverum touches more on black metal's dark atmospherics, as heard on Xasthur's Subliminal Genocide, an album Elverum claims as a direct influence. It's a style that he's come to call, appropriately enough, "black wooden."