Phil Elverum has been making music since 1997 and has 9 albums already under his belt. He is perhaps best known for acclaimed album The Glow Pt. 2 under his previous moniker of The Microphones which gained him a small but dedicated fan base. Clear Moon is the first in a duo of albums to be released by Elverum’s Mount Eerie project this year and the second, Ocean Roar, is due in October. Both records have been said to be a continuation of Elverum’s attempt to document his hometown and the surrounding area whilst also dealing with more abstract philosophical and natural themes which have been present in his work since the beginning.
Opening with “Through the Trees Pt 2” we hear the familiar sounds of Elverum’s hushed voice over the top of fuzzy guitars, drums and organ. He sings out over the music - “there is no other world and there never has been”. Elverum often writes these kind of lyrics – dark, philosophical, bordering on supernatural. There’s another one of these before the song is done - “raw impermanence echoes in the sky”. “The Place Lives” is a much louder affair; the vocals are buried slightly under thrashing guitars and heavy reverb creating the haunting atmosphere that’s so integral to the Mount Eerie sound.
Elverum works with a variety of sounds on this record. Shifting between classical, more orchestral pieces and simple guitar based tracks the result is always dark and, in the case of “The Place I Live”, for example - which includes a bassoon and a double bass - fit to soundtrack cult TV hit Twin Peaks. Flirting between the quiet, soft melodies of “Yawning Sky” and the thunderous sounds of Lone Bell this proves to be an exciting first part of the pair of albums Elverum plans to release. The title track is the longest and is without a doubt the masterpiece of the entire LP. Featuring crashing doom-laden drums and echoing vocals, Elverum repeats “imagined clear moon in the black sky”. The whole song sounds so apocalyptic it’s impossible not to picture the blackened sky that’s referenced. The album ends with “(synthesizer)” which sounds angelic in comparison to Clear Moon. If the title track represents the end of the world then “(synthesizer)” its rebirth. Purely instrumental, its heavenly sounds leave the door wide open for October’s Ocean Roar.
Clear Moon, for me, is represents everything I like about Elverum and his music. It’s like watching a storm build up, unleash its power before it ends, the sun breaks through the clouds and a sense of calm settles over the landscape. After the slight chaos of his last record Wind’s Poem this LP sees Elverum return to top form and produce something extremely impressive.