Review Summary: Misunderstood and disillusioned, I go on describing this place and the way it feels to live and die
After consistently pushing the boundaries of folk music for the past decade, it's hard to understand why Phil Elverum's music has been critically ignored in the most criminal sense. With the Microphones he released not one, but two of the genre's defining records in The Glow Pt. 2
and Mount Eerie
. That very namesake of the latter has propagated its own offshoot in Elverum's own project, following and expanding upon the sonic environment put in place by his group. And again, some of the most affecting and genre-bending releases ensued with No Flashlight
, Lost Wisdom
, and the atmospheric black-metal tinged Wind's Poem
doesn't reinvent Elverum's wheel by any stretch of the imagination - instead it hones his songcraft by using the elements that made his previous records so successful. Equal parts moody atmospherics and emotive strumming per "Through the Trees Pt. 2" evoke varied feelings of the apocalypse - be it literal dark imagery or the soundtrack to a drug (or otherwise) induced ego-death. As a whole, Clear Moon
isn't as massive as Wind's Poem
, but it manages to straddle a fine line between distorted noise/ general heaviness and folky delicacy. Elverum's voice is as gentle and emotive as it has always been, while continuing to expound his almost trademarked at this point observational allegory (Misunderstood and disillusioned, I go on describing this place and the way it feels to live and die
- again, "Through the Trees Pt. 2"). Vocals from Allyson Foster and Genevieve Castree are a perfect complement on "The Place I live" and "Over Dark Water", respectively.
The impressive thing about Clear Moon
though is how truly organically rooted it is. The recording is still lo-fi, but not such that there is a lapse in quality. Elverum's recording techniques really enhance the compositions - strummed chords dance between channels, feedback rumbles like clouds across a skyline a-la "Yawning Sky", and dissonance-come-distortion drives in waves of sound. At the end of the forty minutes or so of Clear Moon
it's hard not to achieve a sort of base level spiritual awareness about your life. If anything, there is at least the literal realization that Elverum's latest is surely another significant entry to a defining discography; it's hard to ask for anything more.