‘Clear Moon’ is full and quite beautiful.
Phil Elverum’s indie music royalty status was achieved while recording as The Microphones. Many indie aficionados cite The Microphones’ 2001 album, The Glow Pt. 2, as being one of the best albums of the indie lo-fi subgenre. Eleven years later and Elverum no longer records as The Microphones; instead, his Mount Eerie project, taking its name from the 2003 Microphones’ album, is keeping him busy. Elverum has promised two new full-length Mount Eerie albums this year, beginning with Clear Moon, a remarkable new album revolving around Elverum’s day-to-day life in his fog covered home of Anacortes, Washington.
Both Clear Moon and its upcoming companion album, Ocean Roar, seek to capture the mood of Elverum’s hometown. Elverum describes Ocean Roar as, “thick fog laying on your head” and Clear Moon as, “a clear sky with the moon in it”. Though I’ve never been to Anacortes, Clear Moon definitely captures an atmosphere. Other Anacortes’ residents may disagree with Elverum’s musical depiction, but the image I get is cold, damp, and somewhat enchanting. Elverum uses various experimental textures throughout Clear Moon to give a feeling of place, much like Bon Iver’s self-titled album of last year. Elverum chose to record this album in a recording studio that he built in an old de-sanctified church, and I’m convinced that it added some of the album’s haunted mystique.
Elverum sings of Anacortes’ heavy fog many times on Clear Moon, and the thought of what’s hidden behind the misty haze is one of creepy anxiousness. On “Lone Bell”, the mystery within the fog happens to be a demented horn. On “the Place Lives”, a double tracked guitar rhythm has a wasp in a jar effect, just one piece of the song’s beautiful, encompassing arrangement. Elverum’s voice often gets lost among Clear Moon‘s music. While he is known for a lo-fi history, Clear Moon is sonically richer and swallows Elverum’s frail vocals. Elverum sounds like he’s becoming the music, as if his DNA is binding with the arrangements of the songs.
Ocean Roar is said to also differ from Clear Moon in that it features some “black metal-ish” songs. Clear Moon isn’t without its own intense moments of crunching distortion. “Over Dark Water” features an amazing drum battle royal in its thunderous finale while “the Place Lives” takes a grunge turn near its end. Clear Moon also recalls the prog-rock nature of Roger Waters’ era Pink Floyd with the album’s title track and “Yawning Sky”.
Clear Moon is solid overall and shines favorably on what Ocean Roar could be when it arrives. Considering Clear Moon‘s beautiful execution, Ocean Roar will likely be powerful.
Purchase: Mount Eerie – Clear Moon