Review Summary: Going for a walk?
When it comes to Phil Elverum, you can bet your life that he will try and do something new and organic with each album, regardless of how similar in sound it is to previous efforts. So far, we've seen the aggressive, raw, black metaller Phil (Wind's Poem and Ocean Roar) and the reflective, somber Phil. (Clear Moon.)
Lost Wisdom is doubtless Phil at his most gentle and mellow. Here, he discards all of the walls of sound that has dominated his later works into a more Microphone's styled approach, with minimal acoustic guitar being the only consistent instrument throughout, bar Phil’s (and special guest Julie Dorion) singing voice. Minimal music, however, calls for strong writing, as it is a type of music that is almost completely dependent on the strength of the lyrics in order to deliver the full goods. Phil delivers, his lyrics being a strong poetry that echoes across your mind, taking you back on lonely walks down a night time street, be it in the country or the city, reflecting on your life and all the mistakes/triumphs you've made so far.
The music itself, with just two acoustics, takes you back there gently, never fully dominating Phil's or Julie's singing but providing something of a backdrop. It chooses to sacrifice overt technicality for a beautiful if simplistic sound, a sacrifice that was definitely worth making, as overt technicality here would not have supported the themes and poetry of the lyrics.
Lost Wisdom is a display of the modest and laid back Phil, but shows that even when he is these things he is still very much a force to be reckoned with when it comes to making music to take with you on that night time walk.
Luke recommends: Voice In Headphones, You Swan Go On, Flaming Home, With My Hands Out.