The title Pre-Human Ideas
calls to mind a disparaging thought: an auto-tune re-imaging of previous works that attempts to be starkly human. The cold, robotic vocals are at odds with any sort of notion of “humanism.” In spite of this the album, and Phil Elverum’s music in general, works on a very basal level. Its ephemeral beauty is natural, so much that it feels universal. Taking a cursory glance at the cover, one cannot help but think that all the while Elverum is prodding us a bit; challenging us to second guess it all. Despite the frigid and calculated sound, the artist is just as real and human as he’s ever been.
Featuring double layered male and female vocals, Pre-Human Ideas
isn’t going to sound fundamentally different from the rest of Mount Eerie’s discography. Especially since this is a re-working of (mostly) recently released songs. However, digging a little deeper and one discovers that these multiple swirling vocals are but one person-Elverum himself. Those female vocals heard throughout are just the up-pitched sounds of artist himself. Because of this, Mount Eerie offers a polarizing idea, with the album standing as an intensely personal affair amidst the strange auto-tuning.
succeeds both as a novelty as well as a new album. While there is no new material per se, Mount Eerie has produced enough interesting changes that will cause listeners to deeply rethink about previously released tracks. The tedium that was “Lone Bell” has now become an ominous and mechanical piece with even more layers than before. Gone is the dark haze, replaced with a feeling of enchanting clarity that sounds somewhat sobering. And these tweaks are anything but subtle. Yes the songs are essentially the same and will be instantly recognizable by fans, but things such as the indiscernible vocals throughout “Yawning Sky” bring invoke sense of discovery. Newly written lyrics helps expand on thoughts previously explored in earlier albums as well. After all, Mount Eerie is never one to work off of novelties. Mount Eerie is a constantly evolving entity that thrives on offering up experiences and ideas that consistently challenges his listeners. On a very basic level Pre-Human Ideas
may appear to be the work of an artist diving headfirst into insanity. But at its core the album is one of the most personal and engaging releases of Mount Eerie’s career.