Phil Elverum began his career at the helm of The Microphones, a band that infused noise and electronic influences into their take on folk music. Now on his own as Mount Eerie since 2004, Elverum continues to use thundering guitars, plodding percussion, and splashes of electronics as his M.O. Clear Moon is his fifth LP under this name and like it’s predecessors, it presents a lineup of beautifully meandering songs that aren’t very concerned with being pop music. Still, there’s something catchy about the album and Elverum works wonders coaxing as much power out of his minimal set up as possible.
Lyrically, he doesn’t venture too far from his immediate surroundings with much of Clear Moon’s content addressing his interactions with his hometown of Anacortes, WA. There is a level of simple sincerity in Elverum’s words that could only come from someone opining about their hometown, ‘I go on describing this place, and the way it feels to live and die’ he sings on opening track ‘Through the Trees Pt. 2’.
Songs like ‘The Place I Live’, ‘Yawning Sky’ and the title track offer up an ethereal beauty that is only enhanced by Elverum’s deadpan ruminations, while ‘(something)’ would qualify as ambient music, little more than a droning synth and plenty of reverb not unlike the work of Grouper’s Liz Harris. The denser material like ‘The Place Lives’, ‘Over Dark Water’ and ‘House Shape’ isn’t as instantly pretty as the rest of album, but if you can peer through the blasts of guitar noise the same quiet elegance is there.
Clear Moon achieves a very loose feel from one end to the next giving off something of an improvisational vibe. But that looseness belies the fact that these songs can deliver an emotional hammer blow with Elverum using his subtle tones to lure the listener in close before letting his words hit home. With another full length LP, Ocean Roar, on the way it certainly seems like it will be a good year for Mount Eerie.