June 11, 2005

The Microphones - Mount Eerie


Released Jan. 21, 2003 on K RecordsPosted by Hello

Concept album Mount Eerie contains only 5 tracks, yet it is a full-length LP. The ambitious opening track, "Sun," boasts a length of 17 minutes. As opposed to using an attention-grabber, Phil Elvrum chose to string together ominous ambient sounds, keeping the listener in suspense yet willing them to continue. The album is constructed as five parts of a single idea, that of a man venturing into the wilderness to find the meaning of it all, and to find his own identity in the process. In fact, Mount Eerie, where this journey takes place, is the name of a mountain peak that dominates the landscape of Elvrum's birthplace, Fidalgo Island (near Vancouver).

Elvrum explained the album in an interview with Seattle Weekly shortly after its release in 2003. " . . . I think it's about coming to terms with the Void, the universe. In my mind, it is a story of a person, played by me, who is left alone on an island and catches a glimpse of some black ships full of marauders coming over the horizon; so he runs off to the middle of the island and up a mountain, through a glacial valley, and notices the sun has set and reminisces about how nice it was to be lit up by 'her.' Then, upon coming out of the valley, he notices outer space and sees the summit 'buried in more air, buried in space."

"Like, even at the top, there's still stuff above that. Then he watches King Dark Death come in a big black cloud from across the water and kill him, then a bunch of vultures come from Samish Island on a wind and eat his body and fly off. Then there's an awkward silence, then another song by 'him' as an invisible person about how finally he sees the universe's true deep face. Like, it looked like a beautiful starry painting before but now it's 3-D."

The deceptively simple sounds and lyrics are in fact the workings of a science fiction, slightly disturbing and not fully comprehensible. On the other hand, Elvrum's soothing voice and his use of sparse and striking sounds beckons the audience to go on the journey with him through the unknown.

Click here to buy Mount Eerie.