Phil Elverum has announced a new Mount Eerie live album. It’s titled (after) and it arrives September 21 via P.W. Elverum & Sun. The LP was record at the 2017 Le Guess Who? Festival at a church in the Netherlands. It features songs from A Crow Looked at Me and this year’s Now Only. Below, listen to Elverum’s performance of Crow’s “Soria Moria.”
Mount Eerie: “Soria Moria (live)”
In a lengthy statement accompanying the album announcement, Elverum reflects on writing A Crow Looked at Me after the death of his wife Geneviève Castrée. “While making the songs that would be released as A Crow Looked at Me, I wasn’t thinking at all about sharing them with other people, family or strangers. Nobody,” he says. Elverum also recalls what it felt like to perform the songs live. “It wasn’t easy,” he states. “The shows were emotionally difficult and the atmosphere was so delicate and strange, like reenacting a violent act on stage in front of a paying audience every night.”
In addition, Elverum discusses the importance of the Le Guess Who? performance recording. “Does it bring anything new to the songs to hear them in this way? My hope is: yes,” he says. “You can hear the breath in the room. You can feel the simultaneous intimacy and immensity…. This is a recording of these ultra-intimate songs living in the real world among people, and of peoples’ wide eyed accepting silence, and clapping.” Find Phil Elverum’s full statement, as well as the (after) tracklist and cover art, below.
Read Pitchfork’s feature profile “Death Is Real: Mount Eerie’s Phil Elverum Copes With Unspeakable Tragedy,” as well as “Love Is Real: On Phil Elverum Marrying Michelle Williams” on the Pitch.
01 Real Death
04 When I Take Out the Garbage at Night
05 Emptiness pt. 2
06 Soria Moria
09 Now Only
10 Crow pt. 2
12 Tintin in Tibet
Mount Eerie’s Phil Elverum:
While making the songs that would be released as A Crow Looked at
Me, I wasn’t thinking at all about sharing them with other people,
family or strangers. Nobody. I was only thinking of squeezing the
constant flow of words that was crashing around in my head into a
familiar form, a song, since that was my habitual method of processing
that had accidentally developed since adolescence. I made my inner
monologue into songs for no other reason than to release it from my
skull. At some point during the writing I recognized a feeling in the
vicinity of “pride” about the work. It was a strange realization.
These songs, and the facts of my life that the songs were made from,
seemed like nothing to be proud of. They seemed like something purely
brutal and new and apart from my usual conception of creative work,
and the notion of having excitement stemming from these new songs was
accompanied by so many apprehensions and uncertainties. What does it
mean to write things like this down? What would it mean to record it?
What would it mean to share it with strangers? Where is the line of
propriety? What is anyone supposed to do?
At every step I was uncertain if it was OK to be doing what I was
doing. My hunch was almost always that it was wrong. Don’t write it,
don’t record it, don’t sing it in front of people, don’t repeat it.
But also I was surprised to discover that my internal response to this
hesitation was almost always to double down and go deeper in; to
write more nakedly, to go on another tour, etc. In the year that came
after releasing A Crow Looked at Me I toured a lot. The United
States, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan. It wasn’t
easy. The shows were emotionally difficult and the atmosphere was so
delicate and strange, like reenacting a violent act on stage in front
of a paying audience every night. On top of that, I had to tour with
my daughter (and a nanny) so my mind was stretched between 2 big
difficulties. But fortunately, with the help of so many understanding
and helpful agents, bookers, organizers, I was lucky to get to perform
these songs in very well suited and beautiful rooms, nice theaters and
churches, to kind and supportive listeners. The concerts ended up
being something beyond strange, macabre, gawk-shows. I don’t know
what they were exactly. Just strangers gathered in beautiful rooms to
pay close attention to one person’s difficult details, and to open up
together, quietly. They have been the most powerful shows of my life,
Even so, every time it was clear that the audiences shared the same
apprehensions that I had. After the first song, every time, there was
a palpable hanging question in the air: “Should we clap?” It’s a
good question. What is this? Is it entertainment? What is applause
for? What kind of ritual is this? Many close friends have still not
listened to the records or come to a concert. What, beyond pain, is
embodied here? I don’t know exactly what my job is, traveling around
and delivering these feelings. The concerts in 2017 and 2018 have
been unusual, unexplainable, and great.
The best one was at Le Guess Who? festival in Utrecht, Netherlands on
November 10th, 2017. Nobody was supposed to be recording these shows
but fortunately someone didn’t get that message and this beautiful
recording of that show has surfaced.
So now I’m plunged back into the apprehensions, now pushed into new
territory. What would it mean to release a live album of these songs
that maybe shouldn’t have been written in the first place, let alone
recorded or performed? Is it OK? Does it bring anything new to the
songs to hear them in this way? My hope is: yes. You can hear the
breath in the room. You can feel the simultaneous intimacy and
immensity. Foregrounded by the hyper-bare instrumentation (minimal
acoustic guitar), the words burn brighter even than on the albums,
more legible. This is a recording of these ultra-intimate songs
living in the real world among people, and of peoples’ wide eyed
accepting silence, and clapping.