Phil Elverum of Mount Eerie has two key foci, which he returns to repeatedly with remarkable success. The first is noise (any casual fan can confirm that he’s a maestro), and the other is landscape. Geography. Elverum makes no secret of his interest in space and shape, as many of his songs — not to mention his albums — are titled after features of the land and sea. Even the method he uses to move through his oeuvre is thus organized: from album to album or song to song, he’ll frequently revisit those spots or features he’s shown to us before, as if they were favorite perches or old haunts. See song “The Glow,” which lent its name to the brilliant and storied album The Glow Pt. 2; see The Microphones’ album Mount Eerie, which evolved into the band Mount Eerie; see “Through the Trees” on Mount Eerie’s 2009 album Wind’s Poem, which was reprised as “Through the Trees Pt. 2” on Clear Moon (TMT Review) earlier this year. Just as the world is full of terrain that we revisit under different weathers and different moods, under different skies and different stars, the places on Elverum’s musical map are to be passed through again and again, to varying effects.
This said, Elverum’s music has done much to empower the concept of The Album, as his own albums are journeys, nearly as spatial as they are sonic. Each leg seems unreachable without the trek that came immediately prior. So in listening to this, the title track of upcoming album Ocean Roar, note that this is the album’s second track. Trust me when I tell you that the real ROAR cited in this title appears in the song preceding. It’s an incredibly inventive maneuver: the song you’re hearing now isn’t the ocean roar itself, but the wake of it, the memorialization of it. You can hear proof in the remnants of that previous song as this one begins: that descending, drowning, winding-down of pitches.
Alas, you may have to wait until the album’s drop in September to hear/see the two track suite in full panorama. For now, you’re looking at the shore while the ocean’s still hidden behind a veil of fog. It’s soothing, yes, but believe me: it’s nothing like the full effect of the plunge.
Ocean’s Roar will be out from P.W. Elverum and Sun in September (but you can order the vinyl now!).
• P.W. Elverum and Sun: www.pwelverumandsun.com