|The Microphones — The Glow Pt. 2 [Deluxe Edition] (2013)|
The Microphones — The Glow Pt. 2 [Deluxe Edition]
♠♠♠ Proto-freak-anti-prog-folk masterpiece gets a nice reissue, but why now?
♠♠♠ They also happen to be the most traditional “songs” on the whole album, and they contain all the sounds that inform the rest of it — multi-tracked guitars, booming drums, panning effects, musique concrète, a metronomic heartbeat, and Elverum’s warbly vocals.
Born: Phil Elvrum May 26, 1978
Location: Olympia, Washington
Album release: September 2001/July 9th, 2013
Record Label: K Records [KLP133]
01. I Want Wind to Blow [5:33]
02. The Glow Pt. 2 [4:59]
03. The Moon [5:17]
04. Headless Horseman [3:09]
05. My Roots Are Strong and Deep [1:53]
06. Instrumental [1:39]
07. The Mansion [3:52]
08. (Something) [1:39]
09. (Something) [2:42]
10. I’ll Not Contain You [2:51]
11. The Gleam Pt. 2 [1:57]
12. Map [5:00]
13. You’ll Be in the Air [2:41]
14. You’ll Be in the Air [1:41]
15. I Am Bored [1:36]
16. I Felt My Size [2:24]
17. Instrumental [1:52]
18. I Felt Your Shape [1:54]
19. Samurai Sword [4:07]
20. My Warm Blood [9:28]
21. Where Lies My Tarp? [3:48]
22. I Felt My Size (Acoustic) [1:52]
23. I Hope You Wish You’d Die [2:18]
24. I’m Like You, Tree [1:14]
25. The Glow Pt. 2 (Sequel) [1:47]
26. We’re Here to Listen [3:27]
27. Sleepy Hollow [1:19]
28. Lanterns (Version) [2:06]
29. Map/Moon (Version) [1:31]
30. The Glow Pt. 2 (Version) [6:12]
31. I Want Wind to Blow (Version) [4:18]
32. Instrumental (Version) [0:25]
33. The Moon (Version) [3:46]
34. Samurai Sword (Version) [1:25]
35. The Gleam Pt. 2 (Version) [2:36]
36. My Roots Are Strong and Deep (Version) [0:23]
37. I Felt My Size (Version) [1:26]
38. My Warm Blood (Humming) [0:22]
39. You’ll Be in the Air (Version) [0:59]
40. The Moooooon (Version) [1:54]
♠♠♠ Phil Elvrum © Photo credit: Wheat Wurtzburger ♠♠♠
♠ Originally released in 2001 by K Records, re-released on July 9th, 2013 by P.W. Elverum & Sun of Anacortes, Washington.
Review by Heather Phares; Score: ****½
♠ While It Was Hot We Stayed in the Water (Recording date: September 24, 1999 — March 6, 2000) expanded the Microphones‘ lo-fi, psych pop horizons, their 66-minute epic The Glow, Pt. 2 marks an even bigger departure. Named after It Was Hot‘s sprawling centerpiece, the album explores and explodes styles and moods over the course of 20 songs that lead into one another breathlessly, as if even an hour simply isn’t enough time for Phil Elvrum and company to pack in all of their ideas.
♠ The album revels in its kaleidoscopic sounds, spanning pastoral folky ballads, playful symphonic pop, and gusts of white noise. Flourishes like the steel drums on the title track and the double-tracked vocals and xylophones on “The Map” make The Glow, Pt. 2 something of a rarity: a lo-fi album designed for headphones. The distorted drums, murky organs, and crisp acoustic guitars that punctuate the album have an oversaturated, almost tangible quality that, while dense, never overwhelms Elvrum’s fragile voice or poetic lyrics. The beautiful acoustic ballad “I Felt Your Shape” cautions against holding on too tight to someone, literally or figuratively; “I Am Bored” sets the boredom of a dying relationship to noisy fuzz pop. But it’s The Glow, Pt. 2's deep, nearly spiritual yearning that makes it the Microphones’ most compelling album to date. ♠ Vague, strangely hymnal lyrics like “Through rotting skin I’ll leave my coffin/Through callous work I will grow soft,” from “I’ll Not Contain You,” resonate emotionally, albeit cryptically. At times, The Glow, Pt. 2 resembles My Bloody Valentine’s Isn’t Anything (“I Want to Be Cold”) and His Name Is Alive’s Home Is in Your Head (especially on the instrumentals); like those bands’ best work, the album is dense with musical quick-changes, production tricks, and evocative imagery. Expansive yet accessible, indulgent yet unpretentious, The Glow, Pt. 2 redefines the Microphones’ fascinatingly contradictory music.
Artist Biography by Jason Ankeny
♠ The Microphones was the alias of Anacortes, WA-based lo-fi psych-pop mastermind Phil Elvrum, also known for his work as a member of K Records bands D+ and Old Time Relijun. Following a series of cassettes on the local Knw-Yr-Own label, including Wires and Cords, Tests, and a self-titled effort, The Microphones issued their first full-length effort, also titled Tests, on the Elsinor label in the autumn 1999. Don't Wake Me Up appeared on K the next summer, followed in 2000 by Window and It Was Hot We Stayed in the Water. 2001 saw the release of The Glow Pt. 2, which added new dimensions to The Microphones' sprawling sound. Shortly after the release of 2003's concept album Mt. Eerie, Elvrum decided to retire the Microphones moniker and
♠ Tests (1998)
♠ Don't Wake Me Up (1999)
♠ Window (2000)
♠ It Was Hot, We Stayed in the Water (2000)
♠ The Glow Pt. 2 (2001)
♠ Mount Eerie (2003)
EPs and other releases:
♠ Blood LP (2001) (limited release, hand made album of miscellaneous recordings from The Glow Pt. 2)
♠ Little Bird Flies into a Big Black Cloud LP (2002) (limited release, hand made album of Elvrum accompanied by piano and organ)
♠ Song Islands compilation of singles (2002)
♠ The Singing from Mount Eerie 10" (2003)
♠ The Drums from Mount Eerie 10" (2003)
♠ Live in Japan (2004)
♠ "Bass Drum Dream" 7" (1999)
♠ "Feedback (Life, Love, Loop)" 7" (1999)
♠ "Moon Moon" 7" (1999)
♠ "I Can't Believe You Actually Died" 7" (2001)
♠ "The Moon" 7" (2001)
♠ "Lanterns/Antlers" 7" (2002)
♠ "Don't Smoke / Get Off the Internet" 7" (2007)
♠ Collaborate With a 1940's Wire Recorder 7" (Four-way split with Golden Boots, Bishop Allen, and Paleo) (2011)
Books and printed materials:
♠ "It Was Hot, We Stayed in the Water sheet music" (2000)
♠ "Little Bird Flies into a Big Black Cloud" (2001)
♠ "What Wonder?" (2002)
♠ "The Headwaters of Mount Eerie book and CD" (2004) (limited release "explanation" of the themes and inspirations for Mount Eerie)
♠ "Fancy People Adventures" photocopied 2005 cartoon-a-day desktop calendar (2005)
Artist website: http://www.pwelverumandsun.com/
♠♠♠ Phil Elverum (sometimes spelled Elvrum) is an artist in a variety of mediums, though he is probably best known for his music recorded under the names Mount Eerie and the Microphones. Born in 1978 and raised in the forests outside Anacortes, Washington, Elverum came of age artistically during the supposed “grunge era.” The gradual realization that there was good art and music happening locally was an opening door to a new world. With a driver’s license and a job at the local book/record store Elverum began staying after hours recording in the back room late into the night, releasing a series of cassettes throughout his high school years. Eventually he moved to Olympia to attend college but soon quit because he was already totally immersed in the thriving underground music world surrounding K. He had been given access to their Dub Narcotic Studio and continued the late night/early morning solo recording experiments in Olympia, eventually releasing his first album with K, the Microphones’ Don’t Wake Me Up, in 1999. He became renowned as an innovative producer and recorded popular albums for friends, often collaborating heavily on many of the songs. ♠♠♠ Also during this time he began doing music tours for about 4 months a year, generating a reputation as an unpredictable and talented live performer. A second Microphones album, It Was Hot, We Stayed In The Water, was released in 2000 as well as a series of self published song books. 2001′s The Glow pt. 2 is probably his best known release. The culmination of this era of work is the album titled Mount Eerie, which came out in 2003 . It is supposedly “death-themed” and after its release Elverum began performing under the name Mount Eerie as an attempt to more fully inhabit that theme and speak/sing from it.
♠♠♠ It was during this time that Elverum spent a winter alone in far northern Norway, providing fuel for the already prevalent mythology surrounding him as an enigmatic public figure and producer of collectors’ items. Upon returning from this trip he moved back to Anacortes and began releasing his own records and booklets via the new small record label, P.W. Elverum & Sun, ltd., a simple address and website intended to be a portal for the variety of Elverum’s creative releases. The first official album from Mount Eerie was No Flashlight in 2005. It was packaged with a gargantuan poster and a white vinyl LP and a CD; this extravagant packaging was intended to create a more precious object in an era of MP3s. This was followed by the release SINGERS and 11 Old Songs of Mount Eerie (both in 2005), as well as No Mystery by D+, a local Anacortes band that Elverum has played in since high school with friends Karl Blau and Bret Lunsford (Beat Happening). In 2007 he released his most extravagant souvenir yet: a hardcover photo book packaged with a picture disc 10″ record. This was a collection of photos from all over the world that had been aesthetic inspirations for much of his musical work of the previous decade. The record was titled Mount Eerie pts. 6 & 7 and was intended as a sequel/conclusion to the Microphones album Mount Eerie (ed note: Mount Erie is the name of a real mountain near Anacortes. It looms over the forest where Elverum grew up.) P.W. Elverum & Sun, ltd. continues to release products by Mount Eerie and other friends, with the way the label is run becoming increasingly a creative expression in itself. Orders from the label are shipped (usually by Elverum himself) in fancy packaging. In early 2008 Elverum announced the release of custom designed packing tape, offering a few rolls for sale as a “limited edition art piece”. In 2008 another book was being published: a collection of journal writing, photos, and drawings from the winter spent in Norway in 2002/2003, as well as a CD of the 19 songs written there. 2009 saw the biggest slew of Mount Eerie releases yet: Wind’s Poem, Elverum’s deepest foray yet into metal and drone; the experimentally-sloppy White Stag CD-R album; and the Black Wooden EP. The Song Islands vol. 2 double LP was released in 2010. K released the “Distorted Cymbals” Dub Narcotic Disco Plate in February 2012.
By Matt LeMay; September 10, 2001; Score: 9.2
♠♠♠ It's an amazing thing when pop music expresses beauty through ambiguity. After being pummeled over the head for years and years with I Love Yous and You Are So Beautifuls, the most direct way of expressing images of love and beauty have pretty much lost all impact. Melodic tricks can wear thin just as easily. Hooks are all well and good, but when you've seen a hook enough times, you know not to bite.
♠♠♠ Perhaps the problem is that most pop music doesn't put enough faith in the listener. Everything must be laid out in the most obvious of terms, and eventually, that obviousness obscures whatever the music originally intended to convey. If you want to invoke the quiet beauty of the ocean, for example, you can write a pop song that says, "Hey, the ocean is really beautiful," or you can try to come up with a sonic approximation of that beauty.
♠♠♠ It's a huge undertaking to attempt to capture something so visual in a song. But for Phil Elvrum, it seems to be second nature. The Glow Pt. 2, the follow-up to last year's gorgeous brainmelt It Was Hot, We Stayed In the Water, captures the sea, the sky, and the mountains in a sonic panorama that seems to live without beginning or end. A sprawling, swirling composition that is both as varied and as consistent as the landscape itself, The Glow Pt. 2 exceeds even its predecessor in capturing the simultaneous wrath and fragility of nature. And sounding really, really cool.
♠♠♠ Like It Was Hot's "The Pull" before it, "I Want Wind to Blow" opens with subtle manipulations of acoustic guitars across stereo channels. There's an amazing sense of open space to the track as overtones from a low, rhythmic rumble, and from the stereo acoustic guitars, create a wash of barely audible noise floating through the mid-frequencies. "I Want Wind to Blow," like a good portion of The Glow Pt. 2, uses repetition and understatement to transform itself from a simple song into a landscape.
♠♠♠ And as with any landscape, the way the songs on The Glow Pt. 2 are perceived greatly affects the impact of the record. This album simply must be listened to on headphones. Hearing the record on regular speakers is like staring at the Grand Canyon through a Viewmaster. The illusion of depth is weak at best, and easily broken. With headphones, the sounds contained within the record absolutely come to life, bouncing and slithering from ear to ear. The use of stereo panning is as integral a part of the disc as the melodies and instrumentation.
♠♠♠ With this stereo enhancement, parts of The Glow Pt. 2 are absolutely breathtaking. And perhaps the single most breathtaking song on the album is its title track, which may or may not be a thematic follow-up to "The Glow," the 11-minute-long centerpiece of It Was Hot, We Stayed In the Water. Opening with blasts of fuzzy guitar and massive drums, "The Glow Pt. 2" segues somewhat abruptly into another segment of stereo acoustic guitars, before giving way to a drop-dead gorgeous wash of multitracked organs. On top of this, Elvrum lets loose what could be the most striking lyrics he's ever penned: "I faced death. I went in with my arms swinging. But I heard my own breath and had to face that I'm still living. I'm still flesh. I hold on to awful feelings. I'm not dead... My chest still draws breath. I hold it. I'm buoyant. There's no end." Elvrum delivers these lyrics in a melodic stream-of-consciousness style that's structured enough to be musically riveting, but loose enough to sound spontaneous and sincere. As the last words of the song fade, the swell of organs segues into a trebly acoustic guitar and hi-hat section highly reminiscent of early Modest Mouse.
♠♠♠ Nowhere on this album are there short, straightforward pop songs like It Was Hot's cover of Eric's Trip "Sand" or "Karl Blau." Instead, the record ebbs and flows gracefully between fragile acoustic numbers like "Headless Horseman," and overpowering swells of noise, with all points in between represented. The flow between songs on The Glow Pt. 2 is absolutely flawless-- the album functions as one giant piece of music as well as it does a collection of songs. Themes of flesh and blood, water and wood, and life and death permeate the record, connecting well enough to create a sense of something greater without beating you over the head with its concept.
♠♠♠ Ultimately, The Glow Pt. 2 is the sound of one man working through a changing landscape — a single voice challenging its surroundings while also accepting that it's powerless to alter them. The disc ends with a throbbing heartbeat, the most basic sign of life having braved through the stormy trek that precedes it. The Glow Pt. 2 is unpredictable, volatile, vibrant, terrifying, and comforting. The Glow Pt. 2 is alive.
John Lingan; APR 07, 2008, 05:52AM
|The Microphones — The Glow Pt. 2 [Deluxe Edition] (2013)|