The Microphones
Don't Wake Me Up


4.0
excellent

Review

by Ben USER (14 Reviews)
July 13th, 2017 | 28 replies


Release Date: 1999 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Get Lost.

The Microphones’ debut ‘Don’t Wake Me Up’ is exceptionally easy to get lost in. It’s an amorphous bulk that doesn’t so much flow as it does stumble and meander, creaking and swaying as it goes. Phil Elverum stitches together a loose patchwork of sounds and textures, forming a myriad of musical environments that, despite their disparity, all share the common tones of seclusion and isolation. ‘Ocean 1, 2, 3’, ‘I’m Getting Cold’ and the title track feature bright beams of strings and chimes, sparingly shining though a forest of fuzz and abrasive drum-work. It feels like another world lurks beneath these dense instrumental shawls, eager to break free but only managing to do so fleetingly. ‘Here With Summer’ and ‘Where It’s Hotter Pt.3’ shake off such pummelling veneers, swirling and oscillating with organs and layered vocals. Whilst equally dense, they drop the claustrophobic air of the aforementioned tracks in favour of a dreamy and soothing aesthetic. Occasionally the forest entirely dissipates, giving way to delicate and open passages in the wistful ‘I Felt You’ and ‘I’ll Be In The Air’. Such moments of respite are short-lived however, the listener quickly engulfed again before they can get their bearings. It’s not a bad feeling though, for the depths of ‘Don’t Wake Me Up’ are engrossing and characterful – albeit cacophonous – enhanced by analogue recording and lush DIY production.

Phil’s characteristically soft vocals are a warm and comforting constant, a guide through the instrumental thicket. Often accompanied by fragile female vocals, Elverum croons and sighs, describing various universal human experiences that are as muddied and layered as the soundscapes in which they reside. Tales unfold of longing and loving, of losing and being lost, and of learning and living; it's easy subject matter to relate to, yet difficult to unpack due to the shrouded way in which it is presented. Phil speaks primarily in metaphors and vague almost-stories, mumbling about starry skies and welcoming oceans, of feeling cold and of dreaming. Whilst general themes seep through his elusive ramblings, it's hard to feel confident that one has truly grasped the precise messages Phil wishes to convey. Indeed, at times it's only natural to question whether there is a deeper meaning to uncover at all given how cryptic some stanzas are. I suppose that’s a good thing, and kind of the point. The joy of ‘Don’t Wake Me Up’ – both instrumentally and lyrically – is the journey, the pleasure of finding your own way and figuring things out as best you can. There is no ‘right way’. Scour the obscure landscapes and interpret Phil’s poetry how you wish, for I don’t believe there is a conclusive or correct analysis to be found. Such is art, and ‘Don’t Wake Me Up’ is a wonderful work of art. It provides an engaging insight into the imagination of another, an experience that I’d be happy to lose myself in any day.



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user ratings (122)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
AsleepInTheBack
July 13th 2017


5898 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Tried my hand at a 1 para review, and yes it is a bit of a mess haha, and not really a 1 para in length. C/c sought, especially for the grammar and vocabulary in this thing, uncertain as to whether it all entirely makes sense. Regardless, happy reading and please give this a whirl if it sounds at all interesting.

Archelirion
July 13th 2017


5639 Comments


"it hard to feel confident that one has truly grasped the precise messages Phil wishes to convey." *it's

"Indeed, at times its only natural to question" - *it's

The single paragraph actually kinda worked here, good job. In fact, lovely read all round :] Pretty unfamiliar with The Microphones' stuff - I think I listened to The Glow Pt.2, like, once, a few years ago - but this makes it seem interesting at the very least

AsleepInTheBack
July 13th 2017


5898 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Cheers for the pick ups, I always mess up the its-it's distinction.

I'd say this is worlds apart from The Glow pt2, which is probably a better starting point to the band, but this is lovely and a really impressive debut.

Archelirion
July 13th 2017


5639 Comments


Pretty easy way to remember is that "it's" is a contraction. If you can say 'it is', 'it has' etc. in place of it, then "it's" is the right one to use. If not, then use "its" :]

ianblxdsoe
July 13th 2017


1908 Comments


cool review, long ass paragraph lol. pos'd

Digging: Nedarb - Amity

AsleepInTheBack
July 13th 2017


5898 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Haha cheers mate. Yeah it aint really a para, but eh.

And thanks Arch, I'm pretty sure I knew that but I'm still terrible at remembering to implement it

theBoneyKing
July 13th 2017


15895 Comments


Great writeup Ben, have a pos. Not quite sure why this needs to be one paragraph though, there are several places were you could have broken it up and it would read a bit more smoothly.

I'll have to explore more of Elverum's stuff at some point. From this review I gather this is a lot like The Glow Pt. 2?

Digging: Modest Mouse - This Is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About

StallionMang
July 13th 2017


8904 Comments


glad this is getting some recognition as of late, phil's non-glowpt2 work w the microphones is so underrated :]

AsleepInTheBack
July 13th 2017


5898 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Yeah Stallion, all The Microphone's work (and Mount Eerie's) is so worth listening to. Doesn't get the recognition it deserves

Cheers Boney, and I would agree. I was dead-set on putting out a 1 para at some point, and this was on its way to being a good size, but I added a few bits here and there and it grew into this clumsy thing. Still, I might leave it, a clunky awkward review to describe and clunky awkward album kind of makes sense in hindsight.

It is very The Glow pt2 in vision and feel, but the Glow Pt2 is far prettier, grandiose and instrumentally varied. This is a fair bit plainer and compositionally sloppy, but it gets its character from that. Certainly a different project, but one can easily see similarities with this and The Glow Pt2.

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
July 13th 2017


24306 Comments


WOAH nice a Ben review. this is really well written and your thoughts on how the lyrics are hard to interpret match my thoughts with most music like this very very well. easy pos but I might suggest splitting the paras up based on the lyrics/music

AsleepInTheBack
July 13th 2017


5898 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

ey cheers mate.

*sigh* finnnne, suppose I should chop it up

edit: done. Suppose I could chop it up more, but meh

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
July 13th 2017


24306 Comments


conform! conform! conform!
looks good to me now (;

AsleepInTheBack
July 13th 2017


5898 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Rip 100% approval with a ghost neg, sad times ):

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
July 13th 2017


24306 Comments


was bound to happen ): sad times tho

AsleepInTheBack
July 13th 2017


5898 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Not so fussed about the loss of approval, more just the lack of reasoning. If you're reading this (whoever it was), I'd love to know what you took issue with. Always eager to improve

brainmelter
July 13th 2017


6182 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

nice review man

Digging: Oes Galliath - Ad Galliam Et Mortem

butcherboy
Contributing Reviewer
July 13th 2017


9368 Comments


whoever neg'ed this deserves to be waterboarded with root beer..

lovely review, and a POS!

Digging: Julius Eastman - Unjust Malaise

clavier
Contributing Reviewer
July 13th 2017


831 Comments


completely agree with butcherboy, very beautiful descriptions

STOP SHOUTING!
July 13th 2017


779 Comments


completely agree you is very beautiful man no homo.

BlushfulHippocrene
Contributing Reviewer
July 13th 2017


2714 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I adore this review, Ben. Perhaps I say this every new write-up of yours, but this is definitely one of your best. It flows incredibly well, and the descriptions are beautiful. I agree wholeheartedly with your analysis, too.

And also, it's good for me to have for once listened to the album being reviewed, haha.

Digging: Pedro the Lion - Phoenix



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