Review : Mount Eerie - Ocean Roar
PitchforkOcean Roar is the second of a pair of albums Phil Elverum recorded recently on extended break from tour. Holed up in a de-sanctified church in the town of Anacortes, Wash., he began making music of heightened attention-- to surroundings, to his consciousness, to nature. The albums are full of the kind of observations you find time to make only when you haven't talked to anyone for a few weeks. May's Clear Moon was a dreamy fantasia about home, its comforts, and also the trickle of anxiety you feel when you are reminded of its fragility. The midnight-black Ocean Roar, meanwhile, is an experiment in imagined homelessness: It has a facing-the-beast quality of a punishing spiritual quest, as if Elverum steeled himself and left his house at midnight, barefoot, and just kept walking.
Clear Moon opened with the faint sigh of a single acoustic guitar-- a tree branch scraping your bedroom window, maybe-- but Ocean Roar's "Pale Lights" opens on a storm, an an ominous churn of organ and drums signaling the imminent arrival of bad feelings. As he always does, Elverum shapes sounds so that they arrive in tantalizing pulses: When he sings, "a small yelp on the wind/ And then, more roaring," over the murk of the music, which has suddenly died down, you are squinting through the album's black-night sound to discern moving shapes just as he is. This odd sensation, of straining to hear music piping through buds wedged directly into your ears, is a good sign that you're in Elverum's world; it gives his music a fragile air, like something that might not survive without your intervention....full text
EarbuddyAlready having released the excellent Clear Moon, Phil Elverum’s choice to release a second album, Ocean Roar, in the same year seems like a risky gamble. If the album was a disappointment, it would detract from his earlier achievement. However, Ocean Roar is far from a disappointment and marks 2012 as a strong year for Mount Eerie when standing out is especially hard with new releases from such indie powerhouses as Animal Collective, Dirty Projectors, Beach House, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, and the Mountain Goats among others. At just eight tracks, Ocean Roar is more instrumental-based than Clear Moon, yet it feels like a necessary piece and completes a complex two part album in terrific fashion.
Both albums were created with the intention of capturing the mood and atmosphere of Elverum’s hometown, Anacortes, Washington. While Clear Moon was softer, establishing a tranquil, hazy view of Elverum’s home, Ocean Roar rips it apart, roaring back with a destructive force of nature. Although the glow of a clear moon provides for a beautiful evening, it also directly affects the ocean, stirring it into a tumultuous fury. Ocean Roar mimics this behavior, instilling most of the album with moments bordering on heavy metal.
Album opener, “Pale Lights”, starts out innocent enough with eerie synthesizers that give way to staggering drums and an all out guitar assault. After three minutes of blasting listeners, Elverum’s voice comes through like some fisherman lost at sea calling out to an unknown presence in the wind; only to be answered by the ocean’s roar. “Waves” is a frothy blast of saltwater that capsizes everything in its path. Who knew that Elverum was capable of such thunderous blitzes? Once again, the mayhem pauses for spoken interludes from Elverum....full text
SputnikmusicTrying to pen one’s thoughts on any Mount Eerie endeavor is a labor that is of equal parts love and pain. You see, Phil Elverum, has been making obfuscating music under the moniker for years, with each release being vastly different from its predecessor. Whether he’s dabbling in folk or black metal, Elverum is impossible to pin down, especially into a mere collection of words. Added to that, within each album lies a carefully plotted world that only Elverum himself knows how to trek. Lyrics and melodies are deceptive; seemingly simple but confounding and deep. Despite all of this unpredictability, Mount Eerie has become a beloved staple, churning out some of the most interesting and challenging music out there. Ocean Roar, the newest release, encompasses everything that Mount Eerie is and has been, whilst throwing in a few surprises as well.
The conclusion that most people will immediately come to in regards to Ocean Roar is that it has much in common with 2009’s Wind’s Poem. While both albums feature some of Mount Eerie’s most atmospheric work to date, they are not as similar as one might think. Sure there is an oppressive feeling thanks to some overt “heaviness,” but there is no mistaking that Elverum was trying something much different this time around. Ditching the black metal influences, some of Ocean Roar feels somewhat like Mount Eerie’s version of post metal. A few songs are crushingly dense, heavy with distortion, and largely lacking vocals. This is a drastic change of pace from this spring’s Clear Moon. Where that album was a return to form of sorts, this album is another plunge into murky experimentation. As a whole, it pays off exceptionally well.
Ocean Roar, as the name might suggest, contains with in it an audible interpretation of the ocean. Elverum does a fine job mimicking the crashing of waves, with a good portion of the album displaying the power and vastness of the ocean. Yet not all of the record is dedicated to this sound. While “Waves” and “Engel Der Luft” are oppressive, the remainder of the record is quite calm. “I Walked Home Beholding” and “Ocean Roar” are two of the album’s most lulling tracks, featuring a sound more reminiscent of Clear Moon. Vocals are brought to the forefront on the aforementioned tracks, and while they both differ vastly from much of the rest of the record, they fit the overall feel very well....full text
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