Mount Eerie is a case of “the best music you’ve never heard of.” I happened upon this project whilst browsing Pitchfork one day – Clear Moon was the top recommended new release at the time. Intrigued, I streamed the record on Spotify. What I heard was captivating enough that I had to review it.
For the uninformed, Mount Eerie is the project of Phil Elverum (although if you haven’t heard of Mount Eerie, you probably haven’t heard of Phil Elverum either). The project’s Last.fm profile describes the project as fuzz-folk, but I will put it more plainly (or attempt to). Mount Eerie sounds like Sigur Ros relocated to the Arctic Circle in the middle of the winter (read: when it’s dark nearly 24/7) and replaced Jonsi with a more suitable singer thats somewhere between being a bass and a tenor. That is, they sound like their name would imply: ambient and peaceful, albeit with unsettling undertones. There’s something about this combination that is captivating.
The records begins with “Through the Trees Part 2″, a lo-fi exploration of tuned down sounds. This track placement is almost misleading – you are thinking the record is just going to be a moodier-than-usual folk record. The following “The Place Lives” and “The Place I Live” awaken the listener to the reality of the record – that something should seem off, but off in a beautiful way. The two titles are actually perfect for describing the mood they convey. They project an image of melancholy familiarity, while warning the listener not to get too comfortable – it’s like reading a good dystopian novel; it holds your attention enough for you to consider it a good winding-down activity, but it leaves you reflective in that pensive way that you’re not sure if you enjoy or not.
Musically, the majority of the record proceeds in the vein of the aforementioned tracks. The occasional interlude switches things up just enough to keep things interesting without killing the mood. “Lone Bell” finds Elverum channeling Thom Yorke a bit amidst a backdrop of repeating scales on a bass guitar. “House Shape” has even more of a Radiohead influence and sounds like a reworked instrumental version Mutemath’s “No Response” from their Armistice record. “Over Dark Water” is about as eerie (pun completely intended) as they come and has a climax that might make you jump. The title track and “Yawning Sky” calm the listener back down to the level that the record overall sets, and one final interlude brings us to a subtle, satisfying conclusion.
Mount Eerie’s Clear Moon is a project which is simultaneously vaguely familiar and new to my ears. This might be the point though. At the risk of beating a dead horse, I cannot decide if I am in love with the mood the record sets or not. One thing is certain though, I am captivated enough to come back to it time and time again. Clear Moon is certainly worthy of a listen and a good rating.