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£4.32

Alternative & Indie - Released March 16, 2018 | P.W. Elverum & Sun

On A Crow Looked at Me, Mount Eerie's Phil Elverum masterfully described how the death of his wife, Geneviève Castrée, changed him. On its follow-up, he expresses how his grief is changing -- whether he wants it to or not -- with just as much skill and tenderness. Written shortly after Crow's release, Now Only finds him mourning the fading of that intense sorrow even as he and his daughter look to what comes next. Elverum tailors his approach in subtle, fitting ways: this album isn't quite as devastatingly sad as its predecessor, and on songs such as "Crow, Pt. 2," there's a lightness when he sings "you're a quiet echo on a loud wind" that wasn't there before. While Elverum maintains A Crow Looked at Me's stripped-down, vérité style of singing and playing, his artistry is more apparent on Now Only. If possible, his use of sound is even more evocative. On "Tintin in Tibet," he sets the flashbacks to how he and Castrée met to floating fingerpicking that's in sharp contrast to the simple downstrokes of the song's present. He also gives the free-flowing storytelling that's always been a hallmark of Mount Eerie -- and A Crow Looked at Me in particular -- a little more structure, with longer tracks that reflect how the world reassembles itself into more recognizable forms once immediate loss passes. On the title track, he even grounds a stream of moments -- waiting in the hospital prior to Castrée's death, playing a festival with Skrillex -- with an honest-to-goodness chorus. Here and on "Distortion," an 11-minute song that spans the first dead body Elverum ever saw, a pregnancy scare, and a Jack Kerouac documentary without ever losing its emotional focus, his gift at connecting the now to the eternal remains unparalleled. Likewise, the ways he explores how the act of remembering Castrée reshapes his grief are equally touching and insightful. "I don't want to live with this feeling any longer than I have to/But I also don't want you to be gone," he sings on "Earth," where the lines between decay and rebirth blur as Castrée's remains resurface in the garden and meld with animal bones on a mountaintop. He confronts the transformation of loss into art -- and into letting go -- more directly on Now Only's emotional hinge, "Two Paintings by Nikolai Astrup," where he lets his wife "recede into the paintings." Like A Crow Looked at Me, Only Now overflows with love, but Elverum never romanticizes death. Instead, he vividly captures the nuances of grief, absurdity, and hope as he and his daughter leave the "blast zone" immediately after Castrée's passing, and that makes Only Now a remarkable portrait of loss -- and growth. ~ Heather Phares
£7.99

Alternative & Indie - Released September 28, 2018 | P.W. Elverum & Sun

"This is intense," Mount Eerie's Phil Elverum says near the end of the concert captured on (After), and it's an understatement if there ever were one: the only thing scarier -- and more cathartic -- than writing the songs about his late wife, Geneviève Castrée, that made up A Crow Looked at Me and Now Only would be performing them for a live audience. Recorded during Elverum's performance in a 13th century Gothic church as part of the 2017 Le Guess Who? festival, (After) is as powerful as the albums it draws from, and continues the evolution of these songs as layered expressions of grief, realization, and love. The Crow and Now Only material loses none of its immediacy in a live setting, yet the impact is different. Instead of the continuous flow of the studio albums, well-earned applause shields and separates each song here in much the same way (After)'s parentheses suggest intimacy and distance at the same time. Taking in each song as a discrete entity allows different moments to break listeners' hearts; the way Elverum notes "you did my remembering for me" on "Seaweed" is a small but particularly devastating example. The rapt silence of (After)'s audience surrounds and supports Elverum's performance in a truly remarkable way, as does the church's ambience -- "Crow, Pt. 2" sounds more ghostly, and more alive, as the echo blends his voice into his guitar. Similarly, the set list's balance of Crow's songs about immediate loss such as "Real Death" and "When I Take Out the Garbage at Night" and Now Only's reflections on its aftermath like "Distortion" and "Tintin in Tibet" (two of Elverum's most beautiful tributes to Castrée) only heightens the personal and the universal within all of these self-described "death songs." Simply put, (After) is another brave and beautiful document tracing how Elverum's sorrow and love continue to change shape. ~ Heather Phares
£7.19

Pop/Rock - Released September 8, 2009 | ADA US - Tomlab

A title like Wind's Poem suggests fleeting delicacy, but there's far more to these songs than that. If this double-album sprawl really was a poem, it would be more epic than haiku, combining Phil Elverum's musings on erosion and mortality with sounds that touch on ambient black metal, field recordings, and David Lynch soundtracks. Elverum has been fascinated with these motifs for some time -- "I Want Wind to Blow" and "You'll Be in the Air" are two of the finest songs on the Microphones' The Glow, Pt. 2, Mount Eerie was a meditation on death and spirituality, and Black Wooden Ceiling Opening documented his first flirtations with metal -- but Wind's Poem is still some of the most impressive music Elverum has recorded under any of his aliases. The album captures the, well, eerie sounds of wind powering through the air like an emotion, spanning wistful breezes and raging three-day blows. The opening track, "Wind's Dark Poem," is definitely the latter, rushing at listeners with gale-force distortion far bigger and heavier than anything on previous Elverum albums. The tornado whipping around him feels more akin to Jesu, Sunn 0))), or even ambient noise artists like Xela, yet it's just as beautiful in its own intense way as his gentler songs are. It's an extreme way to begin Wind's Poem, especially because Mount Eerie's two prior albums, Lost Wisdom and Dawn, were almost painfully quiet. Not all of Wind's Poem is this furious, although many of its noisiest tracks are among its highlights. "The Hidden Stone" actually uses its sound and fury as a buffer, making it just as intimate as any of Elverum's whispery tracks; likewise, "Lost Wisdom, Pt. 2"'s hypnotic drones pull listeners into the eye of the song's storm. He balances these outbursts with moments that are equally gentle, most strikingly on "Through the Trees," an 11-minute outsider's lullaby so slow it would be maddening if its warmth and subtle textural shifts weren't so hypnotic. Elverum's production touches complete the unique atmosphere, ranging from the finely chopped cymbals that top "Summons"' guitar rumble to the layered depth that adds to "My Heart Is Not at Peace"'s funereal desolation. Wind's Poem's second half boasts some of its most exciting experiments. Aided by No Kids' Nick Krgovich, Elverum dives deeper into unusual pop than he has in some time, particularly on "Between Two Mysteries," which recasts the minor-key whoosh of "Laura Palmer's Theme" from Angelo Badalamenti's Twin Peaks soundtrack as the backdrop to gamelan-tinged percussion and sprightly guitars, and "Ancient Questions," the sparkling keyboards and guitars of which are like the clouds parting compared to some of the more blustery moments here. Wind's Poem strikes a balance between accessibility and ambition that offers something for every kind of Elverum fan, but never sacrifices its purpose in the process. ~ Heather Phares
£0.95

Alternative & Indie - Released February 7, 2012 | K Records