Every once in a while (once a year at most) I am moved to put on my ‘Pop Lib Presents…’ hat and risk financial ruination by hosting and promoting a music event in Dunedin, New Zealand, by a visiting overseas artist. We don’t get a lot of overseas touring acts visiting Dunedin, and even less since the Christchurch earthquakes all but destroyed the viability of live music in the biggest city in New Zealand’s South Island. For too many visiting artists a “New Zealand Tour” means playing in Auckland and Wellington. In recent years I’ve brought south Tiny Vipers, Mirah (and band) and Real Estate. This year, in conjunction with A Low Hum, and with help from Radio One, it is Mount Eerie.

Mount Eerie is the name of the current music project of Anacortes, Washington State musician and artist Phil Elverum. He previously recorded under the name The Microphones and has produced and arranged recordings by other Pacific Northwest artists, including Beat Happening, Mirah, Little Wings and Karl Blau.

Brandon Stosuy, writing in The Believer magazine, neatly summed up appeal of Mount Eerie:

“Regardless of the moniker, the various collections include interlocking themes, references to earlier works, and are marked by Elverum’s distinctive naturalist self-recorded lo-fi analog sound that mixes a whispered, gentle voice, which can also yell and bellow, with various strains of sound: His work can be delicately spare or booming and ambitiously layered and noisy, often in the same song. Lyrically, he focuses on memory, first-person storytelling, myth, naturalism, the everyday as sacred, and a sense of place (in and out of Washington State), among other related things.”

There were two Mount Eerie albums released in 2012 – Clear Moon and Ocean Roar. Both are superb, intricate and layered listens. They don’t reveal all their bounty immediately, which means they are the sort of albums that people with short attention spans, or seeking instant gratification, may miss on the kind of casual music browsing that often occurs today. Allow yourself time to become properly immersed in the world of Mount Eerie.

The first, ‘Clear Moon’, is mostly quiet, damp, reflective. The second ‘Ocean Roar’ is, as the title suggests, a sometimes deafening roar of layered noise within which are periods of eerie oily calm. Both albums are heavy with the atmosphere and stories of life amongst Pacific Northwest Washington State coastlines and rainforests. This is melodic experimental pop from the twilight. Mesmerising quiet songs become dense propulsive storms of overpowering soft noise. A guitar line twangs, bells strike, keyboards drone and churn, drums sometimes rumble in the distance like faraway thunderstorms and voices of collaborators appear like ghosts from ancient monastic rituals.

There are two Dunedin shows… Thursday 7th February Mount Eerie plays at Chicks Hotel, with support from Strange Harvest and Trick Mammoth, music from 9pm.
Presale tickets only $15 from UTR:

Friday 8th February there is a special show from Mount Eerie, supported by Alastair Galbraithin the foyer of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery at 7:30 pm.
Presale tickets only $15 from UTR:

Door sales for both shows are $20

Here are some links to the music of Mount Eerie:
Vimeo channel here: