Review Summary: Mount Eerie delivers a release that will chill you to your core in record time.
This fourth full length release “White Stag” marks the beginning of a transfer in Phil Elverum’s aesthetic sound in regards to his moniker, Mount Eerie. While clinging to the lo-fi grit and simplicity of The Microphones “The Glow Pt. 2” stylizations and bringing familiar songwriting tactics from Mount Eerie’s “Lost Wisdom”, Elverum has created an even more so somber atmosphere that captures a cold thematic sensation. Mount Eerie also begins to suggest an embodying quality that brings the impressionistic nature of the sound out and immerses the listener to an even further extent. While the music isn’t as heavily arranged as future Mount Eerie works such as “Clear Moon” or “Wind’s Poem” the ambient noise tracks placed throughout the album hint at the potential.
At times “White Stag” almost feels improvisational in nature. The unfastened personality of the album creates this effect. While it is clear that Elverum did plan out moments of the album due to revisited melodies and patterns the unrefined quality brings the humanistic elements to the forefront. The somber tone and gnarly yet mild distortive quality due to most likely overdriven recording microphones adds texture and emotion to the work. “White Stag” seems to take the seasonal theme of winter with its sober emotive journey. The impressing lyrics regarding cold human interactions and freezing temperatures imply this season’s exploration while the magic of the work comes from the realization that the stripped down simplified music alone could convey this message. This intense chill that is packed with ten brief songs is quite a treat to intake. While other Mount Eerie releases may have also been identified as cold, this album feels especially inclement. At times the natural reverberation effects almost allow you to see the cold air emit from Elverum’s vocal chords as he sings inside an abandoned snow covered building while a gentle freezing breeze drags along.
“White Stag” only clocks in at seventeen minutes and twelve seconds; its brevity works to its advantage as it is cornered in its stylization. This compressed work expresses itself in a way that is easy to grasp and handle; it manages to keep a warm welcome feeling due its haunting precision. The elusive nature of the work feels very rare in a bloodied meat sense. It is expertly refined like it has been cooked just long enough to be healthy yet not enough to progress to a common stage.