After some of his earlier success, Phil Elverum has seeming gone in every direction possible. He kicked things off by releasing an album that was nearly strictly vocals and rhythms ("Mount Eerie") and even released that album in the two separate pieces in limited edition. Then, he adopted the namesake of the album and put out a variety of albums that included collaborations with Julie Doiron & Fred Squire and a couple releases on his own label (P.W. Elverum & Sun) that pushed into an art object realm. One of which ("pts. 6 & 7") is an incredible earth-friendly 132 page book with a 10' record that definitely falls into a, "for the hardcore fans" category.
Despite the slew of different recordings (including one made in a desolate Norwegian cabin), "Wind's Poem" in some ways feels like the first true new Mount Eerie album since the aforementioned album by The Microphones of the same name. Twelve songs run just over 54 minutes and veers back and forth between droning dirges of slow core wonder, cinematic shufflers that draw heavily from Angelo Badalamentit, and incredibly loud passages that sound like the group doing their best conjuring of doom metal.
The P.W. Elverum label is pitching it as, "the best record ever made by Mount Eerie or any related projects," and after spending some time with it, I have a hard time arguing with that statement. When all is said and done, I may find myself ultimately going back to The Glow pt. 2 a bit more than this, but it's certainly a substantial release, and one that seems like it will have even more sway when the temperature drops and seems to fall in line even more with the sounds on the release.
A sort of album-length meditation on decay and life and death, "Wind's Poem" isn't an easy listen (at least, as much as earlier work from Elverum), but it's certainly not a big challenge either. There are melodies that creep and stick in your brain and subtle layering that rewards on multiple listens.
Because the album roils and rolls over its duration, there's really no better place to start than at the feverish opener of "Wind's Dark Poem." Opening with a swarm of massive guitars, it curtails only slightly to let the warm words of Elverum slightly peek through, but mainly keeps the amp-shredding wall going for a full 4 minutes. On first listen, it comes as a real shock (as in, "is this really Mount Eerie?"), but now I can't imagine a more emphatic way for the album to announce itself.
From there, the album sloughs off into the quieter "Wind Speaks" before settling into the serious 11-minute drone epic of "Through The Trees." The latter finds held organ chords mixing with pitch-bent tape loops, muffled drums, and all kinds of other time-bending instrumentation that sounds like it's being slowly stretched and warped with age. A couple other songs again blister with ringing drums and overblown guitars ("something" and "the Mouth of Sky") before the latter couple tracks veer into a slightly more heady realm.
One of these is "Between Two Mysteries" and it can't be a simple coincidence that the track borrows a chord progression from the aforementioned Badalamenti as it weaves a story of a semi-magical locale that sounds an awful lot like Twin Peaks. It's also one of a couple songs on the album where a little bit of sunlight manages to creep through the darkness, and it helps lighten the load considerably.
After all the random side projects and solo seclusion efforts and other random merchandise, Wind's Poem arrives as a solid and cohesive album from a group that hasn't always been the most focused. It's by no means a feel-good release, but the arc of the album plays in its favor, moving through some devastating passages before lightening the load towards the end.
[from somethingexcellent reviews]