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Mount Eerie - Wind’s Poem

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Artist: Mount Eerie

Album: Wind’s Poem

Label: P.W. Elverum & Sun

Review date: Aug. 25, 2009

It has been said – perhaps merely by promotional companies or perhaps elevated to the level of conventional wisdom – that Wind’s Poem is Phil Elverum’s Black Metal album, whatever that means. The genre has found much more acceptance as of late due to the zeitgeist or the music media running out of sub-cultures to vulture, and unassuming musicians like Elverum and The Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle are indie rock’s go-to advocates. And while the murderers and anti-Semites take up the limelight, the genre is dense enough and diverse enough to encompass many styles; thus, puerile and ironic value aren’t all Black Metal holds, though the worst excesses are taken to be paradigmatic of the entire fold.

If this is Elverum’s Black Metal album, however, it’s only because he was already making music which touched the avant-edge of it. Often slow, methodical, dramatic – even melodramatic at times – Mount Eerie has been mostly a project dedicated to lugubriousness, which one might suppose, necessitated the name change, leaving the more overt pop of The Microphones behind. Xasthur has been mentioned as one of the main influences for Wind’s Poem, and it’s interesting to note the extreme confluence that already exists between Elverum and Scott Conner. They both make viscous and massive music that attempts in some way to approximate the Romantic fascination with an unknowable and unfathomable Nature. In this instance, the inscrutable is death, a topic that’s handled with fists of ham in most cases and is more often an embarrassing piece of juvenilia that sits at the core of Black Metal. Conner’s theatrics and mournful song titles certainly don’t help dispel that stereotype, but Elverum is only thematically influenced by this overwrought gloom.

What’s interesting, listening to Wind’s Poem and Xasthur together is the question of exactly what it means to be influenced by another artist. Everyone’s standard notion is that sounding like or, perhaps when one is young, borrowing heavily from another artist, means one is influenced by them. It is a forced, unsubtle kind of influence that often produces mediocre art, which we see quite often. Musicians get really into some artists and then make conscious decisions to skew their music toward those artists. These are Dr. Moreau albums; shaky quasi-things that are cobbled together inorganically.

Listening to Wind’s Poem though, one can begin to see what true influence means. It’s about ingesting an artist and having that artist live within you: metaphorical voodoo. When Elverum says he was influenced by Xasthur, it doesn’t mean that he listened to Conner’s music and then said, “I want to go there.” Rather, the attraction that already existed between Xasthur’s music and Mount Eerie’s exerted a strong enough force on Elverum that it became incorporated into him.

By Andrew Beckerman

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