Mount Eerie Lost Wisdom

[P.W. Elverum & Sun; 2008]

Styles: Phil Elverum’s microphone masturbatory wet dream
Others: Eric’s Trip, Beat Happening, The Microphones

Active fans of Phil Elverum (I don’t think there are many passive ones) might be familiar with some of the songs on Lost Wisdom. They have appeared on both bootlegged and legit live releases. In fact, Elverum (“Phil” to his fawning fans/friends) has been singing and slinging a lot of the same songs for several years now. It’s the Josh Martinez formula: continue releasing songs over and over, but with varying packaging and versions. This, naturally, plays into Elverum’s eco-friendliness, an honest recycling of hearty songs: reduce à reuse à recycle (use your imagination to triangulate that slogan where the limits of computer technology inhibit me).

Just short of 25 minutes, the 10 songs on Lost Wisdom don’t even constitute a complete set from Elverum. The main attraction of this outing is the “collaborative effort.” Playing and crooning alongside our boy Phil is Julie Doiron and Fred Squire. For those in an Anacortes mist, Julie Doiron (italicized to make Phil a happy Elverum) is from Eric’s Trip — not the Sonic Youth song “Eric’s Trip,” or The Microphones’ “Sand (Eric’s Trip),” but the Canadian band Eric’s Trip, inspired by Sonic Youth’s song of the same name and the group that Elverum covered with “Sand (Eric’s Trip).” Elverum is an outspoken, diehard fan.

So what we have here is an experience of honor. Maybe even an experience of the star-stricken. Elverum wrangled in a voice he believes is one of the most majestic of our times. This is like the young cast of Apocalypse Now working with Marlon Brando, by that point bloated like a satiated boa constrictor — bald Colonel Kurtz rambling through Eliot’s The Hollow Men. It’s a dream come true for Elverum; he gets to live out a lifelong fantasy of playing with Julie Doiron.

These voices, a sharing of the singing duties by Elverum and Julie Doiron, are ample. These voices are courageous and caring. “Voice In Headphones,” Elverum’s reprise of Björk’s “Undo” (off Vespertine), is warm and fuzzy with static that has been smothered by wool socks against the carpet — pajamas with footsies against the rug. These songs, though some having been performed, played, and partaken in by audiences, are still full of spirit. They are rugged and durable songs. But they seem a bit bedraggled. Elverum is reveling in his honest moment of awe. In doing so, he has sloshed away the Norwegian frost with a mittened hand, a frost that kept these songs so chilling.

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