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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
Ever since I heard their seminal album The Glow Pt. 2, I've been following this band (which is composed mainly of Phil Elvrum, the mind behind it all, and a few of his musically-inclined friends) and their musical ventures into the previously unknown.
I immediately went in pursuit of more of that music. I have since bought the previous album It Was Hot, We Stayed in the Water, and the singles collection Song Islands, and have been consistently impressed with the ideas and musicianship that come from one man's mind and his relationship with the universe. (All the Microphones albums can be seen to have a nature-based thread running throughout them, except the singles collection, which is stunning in itself as a portrait of the tremendous growth Elvrum has experienced since his original flowering.)
After the tremendous success of The Glow Pt. 2 (its review page is one of the most popular on this site), where was there to go but up...and out. Mount Eerie is the Microphones' musical idea of the universe, from creation to the present--including a stunning visit with Death itself. It is a true concept album.
It's nothing if not ambitious. And that's the kind of stuff coming out of the independent music scene in Washington state, and that's the kind of stuff you have to be ready for if you're going to listen to the Microphones.
Don't get me wrong, it's melodic and sounds great through headphones. There's all the normal surface that we expect from our music, but there's more. That's all I'm saying.
Of course, I wouldn't recommend this as a first Microphones purchase. There's enough material here that it may be overwhelming to a new listener. Get into the Microphones state of mind first. Listen to It Was Hot, We Stayed in the Water, then go to The Glow Pt. 2, and if you "get" those, you'll be ready for a trip to Mount Eerie.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2003
Format: Audio CD
The latest offering from the Microphones only has five songs. It is not merely an EP-nope-this is a full-fledged album...and that means the songs are going to be long. Sure, "patience is a virtue" and whatnot, but it sure isn't a virtue which I possess. I have an attention span of zero, and I was scared to listen to it.
"Mt. Eerie" opens with nothing but the ambient drones with which "The Glow, Pt. 2" left off--and it drags on seemingly forever. My palms were already getting sweaty. Then, at the 3:40 mark, something is thrown into the mix to hold my attention: drums! I was captivated at first. The slight tapping grew into thunderous pounding...then the pounding keeps going. And going. Did I buy a record by the Energizer Bunny?
The mix of odd noises and drums continues on for another seven minutes! This rivals the most painstaking of the Olivia Tremor Control's or Sonic Youth's experimental tracks, but the Microphones have the audacity to throw it at you right from the onset. And just when I am about to end my exercise in patience, the familiar, haunting voice of Phil Elvrum chimes in. I sighed in relief and settled into my chair.
I love his voice. He doesn't hit every note perfectly. He might even flunk out of a voice class (Bob Dylan probably would, too), but it doesn't matter. His tone is perfect for the Microphones' music. It should be: he IS the Microphones. Elvrum writes just about every note for the "band," and he enlists friends to help him perform everything for the albums.
The difficult first track, "The Sun," pours into "Solar System" via a wave of white noise. When the ear-piercing clamor dissipates, one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard is revealed. I can listen to this song over and over again.
Ambient sounds and drumming again usher in the third song, "Universe." This track is the culmination of everything that "Mt. Eerie" is: it turns out to be just as beautiful as its predecessor, and it manages to capture the weird feel of "The Sun."
This interchanging of weirdness and beauty continues throughout each of the five marathon tracks, but it never feels like it's forced. Each aspect of the album is definitely crafted with care, and there is a driving force holding it all together seamlessly. But what is it?
After the album had played through the whole way, I realized something. I wouldn't have liked it without its odd mood. The atmosphere of "Mount Eerie" is its backbone, and that was set in the opening minutes (many minutes!) with all the weird drones and drumming.
"Mt. Eerie" is one of those albums that must be listened to in its entirety to be fully appreciated, and appreciate I did. Give this record your patience, and it will give you satisfaction in return.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on April 21, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Okay, assuming you're reading this review to see whether you should buy or download this album, you fall under one of two categories. 1) you haven't heard Glow Pt. 2 before. 2) you You have heard the The Glow Pt. 2 before.
If you fall in the 1st category, go buy the Glow Pt.2. Not that it's better mind you, it's just an easier listen and (assuming you like it - and you will) will provide a great gateway into Mt. Eerie - to me, the apex of the Microphones career so far. Now, if you have heard Glow Pt. 2, what are you waiting for? Mt. Eerie takes the unique Microphones' sound you grew to love and brings it to new heights - the heavens. This is the best concept alum since the Wall, and in the deep and ever-growing sea of great indie music, exists in a little tidepool of it's own.
Track one (Sun)is a massive, ambitious representation of the origin on the Universe and life on this planet - an abariginal drum beat powers this tune with Phil Elvrum's unique vocals and lyrical style bringing the metaphysical story to life.
Track 2 (Solar System) says so much in so little - etherial, beautiful,lonely - maybe the greatest Microphone's achievemnet yet.
Track 3 (Universe) brings new elements to the album - pushing the evolution evident throughout - "how many times have I learned this before?/ How many times have I made up this song before?/ How many times have I died up here before?".
Track 4 (Mt. Eerie) quite frankly blows me away. God, I am at a loss for words, really. It truly transcends definition.
And Track 5 (Universe) ties the album together nicely, if a bit hastefully - I was wishing for something more here, but it's beautiful nonetheless. Altogether, a modern masterpiece. No matter what aftermentioned category you fall under, you should eventually get to purchasing this album.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Allow me to begin by saying that Phil Elv(e)rum is a artistic genius. On top of that, he's a very likeable guy (I've had the honor of conversing with him through e-mail). He is my own personal hero - I own pretty close to everything he has ever released publicly (a sum of nearly 300 different songs of his in my library). This album is the final conclusion of The Microphones.

In a single word, this album is epic. Soft noise, pusling heartbeats, distant fog horns, ethnic parade-like drums, trumpet blasts, soft and creepy choruses, whispering mellow guitars, he even uses what sounds like a powered screwdriver as percussion. The unusual instrumentation and 'experimental' recording techniques behind this album are enough for me to give it a five star rating (he released a CD of just the vocals from this, as well as just the drums - both are amazing CD's by themselves).

However, the aspect of this album that completes this album is the concept behind it. According to Phil himself, he essentially asks the simple but massive question, "I noticed that the universe is endless last night, have you ever noticed that?"

The entire album is essentially a single song which tells a story, not only with the words but with the music and instrumentation as well. Different voices represent different "characters," such as what Phil refers to as 'Death'(Kyle Field), 'Vultures' (Karl Blau), or the 'close dark voice'(Mikhaela Maricich).

From a person who has not heard any of Phil Elv(e)rum's music before, this album may be an 'aquired taste'. Musically there are very few parts which most people would consider to be 'catchy'. I would not recommend this as a first album to anyone interested in the microphones. Rather, I'd reccomend that they purchase "It Was Hot, We Stayed In the Water" and "The Glow Pt. 2" before this album. Those albums are still Elv(e)rum's brand of unusual, experimental pop music, but contain much more catchy musical phrases and hooks than Mt. Eerie.

Mt. Eerie is an album that must be a approached at a very different angle than most other music. You must not view it as an album that you just sort of sit back and listen to, or as background music. Rather, you must listen to it and view it as a journey. Close your eyes and picture yourself in the setting that Elv(e)rum has created. Listen closely to the lyrics and the music, and follow the story.

To offer a parallel, this album is in many ways like the book Animal Farm by George Orwell. If you did not understand the deep metaphors in that book, you would think it was a silly child's book about a bunch of animals on a farm that can talk. With this album, if you do not pay close attention and understand the metaphors then you will likely think that it is nonsense.

Also, on the same lines, do not think that this is like other albums that are more a "collection of singles" rather than a cohesive album. Listen to this from beggining to end, do not skip tracks or just listen to certain tracks, at least not at first.

Buy this album, get a set of headphones, press play, close your eyes, and allow this album to take you through different states of conciousness and sub-conciousness, through physical and metaphysical levels of the mind. I promise you'll open your eyes wanting more.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 24, 2003
Format: Audio CD
This is how the Microphones' record label, K, describes Mt. Eerie, for anyone interested. This is no ordinary album.
"Mount Eerie is a concept album that takes it up a notch, the self searching for identity within a universal context. Divided into five parts, it is named after Mt. Erie, a peak that dominates Fidalgo Island where Phil grew up. This drama tells the tale of one person striking out into the wilderness to unearth the face beneath the disguise, and the being beneath the face. "Epic" is too shallow a word to describe the boundless beauty and vision that comprises this superlative work.
The story from Mount Eerie:
I. The Sun In which the story begins, where you are born and run away from death up the mountain in fear and are watched by a ball of fire.
II. Solar System In which, in a valley on the way up, the day is ending while you reminisce about a girl gracefully juggling (you as) a planet.
III. Universe In which, coming out of the canyon in the dusk, you realize your ball of fire friend has set and doubt creeps in. A big beautiful dark backdrop above asks you intimate questions and sings.
IV. Mt. Eerie In which, on a precipice, you watch your killer roll up and kill you. Vultures eat your body and fly off, leaving the peak empty and windy again.
V. In which, invisible, you realize there's a mountain above the one you just walked up. Also, the "Universe" painting you'd gazed at before turns out to be a lot bigger than you thought, and 3-D."
This album sounds as beautiful as it looks. Phil Elvrum basically took all his friends and assigned them roles such as Death, the vultures that eat him, and the Universe (Calvin Johnson, of Beat Happening and founder of K records.) Listen to this in the dark with headphones.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Have you ever tried to come up with a concept for an artwork, whether it be a painting , song, poem , novel whatever.

It can be really difficult, not necessarily difficult to put pen to paper or string together a few chords and an epic guitar solo. But extremely difficult to do these things and not sound like something else .

Alot of music these days to me resembles just a craft , not that there is anything wrong with craft. Hell I love playing with clay.

But as the years have gone on we have learnt that anyone with the want and desire can make a pot, throw it in an oven glaze it stick it on a shelf call themselves a potter, harsh reality to all you pottewrs out there but its true.

Using fairly limited instumentation Phil Elvrum manages to twist contort every day seeming acoustic guitars, hand claps, ascending and desending vocal oohs and ahhs and made probably hands down the most beautiful albums I have heard.

structurly there is nothing altogether differnt hear to your top forty hit albums quite bits ,loud bits , only not always where you expect them.

I love singing along with Phil when he sings

"My heart beats loudly "on the glow part 2, another great album by the microphones trying to get my voice to the same pitch as his then purposely wavering it above and bellow. Plays tricks on my ears probably annoying my flatmates.

Buy this album its beautiful
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2003
Format: Audio CD
The Microphones transport the listener into a theatrical (but not outrageous or pretentious) environment with their latest release, Mount Errie. This is not a CD for the multi-disc shuffle option. All five songs are inescapably tied together through white noise washes, a wonderful abstract philosophy, jolting chouses, off key harmonization and frantic lo-fi drumming. Anyone already experienced with the Microphone's intellectual brilliance will find this irresistible. Don't let the idea of a concept album discourage your purchase. The story is wonderfully constructed and focused like a momentous novel. It is the reluctant acceptance of death and the life affirming aspects of the acknowledgment. "Oh' Universe, I see your face looks just like mine, and we are opened wide." If you have never heard the Microphones before, this album may be a bit overwhelming for your first encounter (try The Glow pt. 2 instead). But, I think that any audacious or intellectual listener will soon perceive the beauty and strength of this recording. Tracks 2-5 are remarkable. Track 1 is a bit extensive, but the birth sequence ultimately leads the listener down the tributaries of the epoch. One can not hustle the primeval womb.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 18, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Mt. Eerie is not a record to listen to in pieces. The record, more or less, is a song, a long piece that flows together quite beautifully in its own strange way. The opener, "The Sun" is a twenty-minute piece, with ten of those minutes devoted to tape hiss and pounding percussion and the other encompassing a fractured lament that builds into a terribly loud climax that ends in hiss. "Solar System" follows the storm, a nice acoustic reprieve from the hurricane of noise. "Universe" and "Mt. Eerie" are more or less one piece, with Phil Elvrum and Karl Blau taking turns with their grasp of lo-fi, minimalist mastery. And all comes to a conclusion with another track entitled "Universe" with Phil Elvrum's voice accompanied and later overtaken by the most ghostly of choirs, who sing a hypnotic vocal riff until all comes to a halt. A concept album about life and death, Mt. Eerie both begins quietly and ends suddenly, an apt metaphor for the living process. Sound a little pretentious? Perhaps, but there's always room for creativity and when it sounds this fully realized, there's nothing wrong with dabbling in indulgence. Highly recommended.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 5, 2005
Format: Audio CD
(but not to what other people think)

i am glad to be living on earth at the same time as this man.

music is no joke. it's the most incredible invention of all time.

each new album from The Microphones re-proves this fact to me.

but let's get out of the romance. some will like it, some wont.

phil is just a human, and a good listener. now it's our turn.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2003
Format: Audio CD
each album beholds a different,new sound that still holds tight to a certain microphones style(over powering distortion with lucious sounds of rain and static). i've only had it for a day but i've listened to it many times already. the first track the sun, which is my favorite on the cd, is 20 minutes in length, half of it being drums and percusious sounds that all yields when phil elvrum breaks through and it sounds like the only one left on the planet and is trying to find a friend or anything. the whole cd is told in a story from birth to death, it's a story that starts with the "big ball of fire" resting gently on your neck and by the end your spirit fly's gently through the universe.
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