Mount Eerie’s sixth LP delivers another lush, mind-altering, sonic experiment that converges into an atypical mix of folk, indie and metal.
Under the moniker Mount Eerie, Phil Elverum’s music career has seen the release of dozens of full-length albums, EPs and live experimentations. In a nutshell, he has been stylistically inconsistent in the best possible way. On the album “Wind’s Poem” he delved into black metal inspired by the likes of Leviathan and Wolves in the Throne Room — he played indie back when he led lo-fi band The Microphones.
Now, his latest album “Ocean Roar” is the second of twin albums released in 2012, the first being “Clear Moon,” which was more normative in structure and bled dark tones. Both albums were written in Elverum’s old church-cum-studio two years in the making.
Released by his namesake label, P.W. Elverum & Sun, Ltd., on Sept. 4, “Ocean Roar” brings the sound towards the light with mysterious and lonesome contemplations of nature and living memories.
The album begins with “Pale Lights,” one of the album’s most dynamic songs, bolstered by a cymbal-driven beat replete with grinding guitar. With that kind of energetic sound, you’d expect Elverum to start singing but, not so; he’ll have you wait until the 3:05 mark before you hear his first delivery. As the song reaches its final minutes, a constant stream of something that sounds like a distorted harpsichord beckons listeners to lose themselves in the thrill of looking over some majestic mountain.
The title song “Ocean Roar” features a chorus of female-backing vocalists that harmonizes with Elverum’s soft lilt. There is definitely a lighter feel to this song, which is made more evident by the peals of children’s laughter at the very end.
“Waves” erupts with a rolling groundswell of ferocious, drum crescendos and atmospheric guitar. In fact, Elverum’s penchant for the scenic and epic might stem from his upbringing in the forests of Oregon. Each song seems to emulate the looming threat of the fantastical and unsettling enormity of nature’s essential elements.
Abandonment and wandering wonderment of the suburban wilderness plays out in “I Walked Home Beholding.” With the infrequency of vocalization, listeners are left hanging onto every word that Elverum sings of storms and the calm wake, “tossed on the waves, blown onto land, grasping meaning, in churning mess, a moment of clear air breathing, seeing the expanse totally at peace with the meaninglessness of living.”
Overall, “Ocean Roar” pays skillful attention to both electronic and acoustic signatures. The combination will take your mind from heavy visceral bleakness to an almost wistful meditation of organic life. As you listen to Mount Eerie, let the unexpected become the expected.
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