Mount EerieA Crow Looked At Me
Released 2017 on PW Elverum & Sun
Reviewed by Separator, 31/03/2017ce
Somewhere in between the releases of all of these albums, on July 9th 2016, Geneviève Castrée Elverum, wife of Phil Elverum, a musician who has been recording under various aliases (The Microphones, Mount Eerie) since the late 1990s, died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 35. She left behind an infant daughter and a husband who had loved her for 13 years. Now, when something like that happens to a man, you might expect him to want some time off to deal with his grief. But no. In a stunningly brave move, Elverum gives us a vivid, heartwrenching insight into his mind during the first six months after her death on 'A Crow Looked At Me'.
Paraphrasing Anthony Fantano in his recent review of the album, listening to this album is hardly entertainment. On the opening track "Real Death", Elverum seems to contradict himself:
"Death is real;
someone's there and then they're not.
And it's not for singing about,
it's not for making into art."
The thing is though, after listening to the album it doesn't feel like a contradiction to me anymore. This album doesn't feel like art, it feels like a diary. In the same song he references receiving a package addressed to his dead wife one week after her death. It contained a backpack for their daughter, for when she goes to school a few years from now. This event, and Elverum realizing that she was planning ahead for a future she knew she wouldn't be there to experience, causes him to fall to his knees and wail. He then closes the song with this lyric:
and I don't want to learn anything from this.
I love you."
This was only the first two and a half minutes of the album. I could describe the rest in similar detail, but I think it's best you experience it yourself. As far as I'm concerned it blows all of the albums I mentioned at the beginning out of the water in terms of sheer emotional impact. Stay strong, Phil.