1. Everyday life, 1942, in Jåhkåkaska, a small Sami community in the Jokkmokk district. 

    Photographs by Anna Riwkin-Brick from Nomads of the North, Stockholm, 1950

     

  2. life/project explanation, late 2014

    I am Phil Elverum of the band Mount Eerie. Here is my brief autobiography for journalists and other fact-seekers. (updated Aug. 31st, 2014)

    I don’t think it’s necessary for anyone to know my biographical details in order to relate to my music but I know that it’s a common curiosity. In my opinion, we have a weird unfortunate infatuation with “royalty” and this makes charismatic individuals the focus of our attention rather than whatever art or song they might create. Possibly sociopathic, I personally don’t care that much about people and wish that everyone else was a little more focussed on the song, not the singer. I know the world is not like this so here is some information about me:

    I was born in 1978. I am from Anacortes, Washington and I still live there. I am a recording artist, interested in finding new worlds through recording sound, usually working alone. I’ve released albums since the pre-internet era under the names “the Microphones” (1997-2002) and “Mount Eerie” (2002-present). Aside from this music stuff, I make books of photographs and words, paintings, poem books, trinkets, art-jokes, etc., and also I run a pretend record label/publisher called P.W. Elverum & Sun (since 2004), primarily a portal for my own projects into the wider world. These are the facts.

    You can easily find out what my music sounds like. I will not try to describe it.
    You can also easily find out what critics have said if you want that. Type in Mount Eerie to the internet.

    Here is an attempted explanation of my intention with making any of this stuff:

    Whenever I stop moving for long enough to sit still and think, I realize that the fact that I am alive and thinking at all is crazy and what the hell? So I am curious about how my mind works and how the world outside it works and how those two realms interact and overlap. I am on a quest for meaning, to be trite. Raw data knowledge is cool, and thought-free drifting is cool, but the ancient act of song/poem is the best; a beautiful deep spring that somehow cuts through all layers of complication and can hold permanent and true wisdom in a few simple words or sounds. So I have spent most of my grown-up life exploring these ideas, thinking about the big picture and learning about other peoples’ big ideas throughout history.

    I have struggled at times with my tendency to use the vocabulary of the natural world, singing about “mountains”, “clouds” and similar icons, and sometimes feeling misunderstood. The reason for this misunderstanding is that I am tackling a complicated issue when I sing about “mountains” and “clouds”, and probably not giving myself the space to fully get into the nuances. A song is brief. On top of that, I believe that our current western-descended culture is damaged in regard to its relationship to the non-human systems we live in/on. In my opinion, there is either ignorant disregard (litterbugs) or over-enthusiastic point-missing fanaticism (artisanal camping gear), so I have felt that my mention of the mountains or the woods often gets mistaken for a celebration of the merely picturesque. We live in superficial times and I want to go deeper. I don’t like the word “nature” because it does a quick job of drawing a mental curtain between “us” and some other realm, separate from where we live and what we are made of, perpetuating the damaging illusion that we humans can exist in some exemption, leading to irresponsible thinking and acting. Fuck nature. I believe there is only one big THIS.

    With these sentiments in mind, I should mention that I enjoy reading about zen buddhism. I am not a buddhist but these simple ideas of emptiness and illusion ring very true for me. Over the years I have filled my songs with references to classic zen poetic tricks, mostly unnoticed. The moon in the song is not the moon in the sky, neither is it the reflection in the puddle, or the reflection in your own mind’s perception. All are separate layers of one big misunderstanding, a mirror with a bunch of dust and paint and scotch tape on it.

    Likewise, I enjoy reading about Scandinavians from 1200 years ago, the pre-christian vikings. They are not as wise or as peaceful as the old zen thinkers but I enjoy spending mental time with them in their boats, yelling poems at grey skies, always close to death and the cold ground, telling stories all winter about invented worlds of gods, living as gods themselves. The connection between these two literary worlds, for me, is that they both venerate the immediate, the sword-sharp present moment. They are both simultaneously exotic and relatable. The concerns of a man in 800 AD about the sounds on his roof are the same as mine. We both inhabit the eternal present moment, lost human animals in a vast wild world, pretending to be part of our respective “cultures”.

    Now in late 2014 I am finishing up an album called “Sauna”. I have been working more than ever on cutting through superfluous symbolism and trying to just say the thing directly. The idea of a sauna is obviously a symbol, although I tried to make the song Sauna as literal as possible. I used steam recordings that I made in my parents’ sauna. I tried to directly translate the feeling of being in a super hot small wooden room and doing that weird thing to your body and mind. Here’s why: I realized that the sometimes absurd act of making music or art is not as useless as it might seem. Like a sauna, music can be an almost mystical short-circuiting of our assumptions that we self-inflict in order to see the world with fresh eyes, to clear away the gunk, both mentally and physically. I have always tried to record music that was deep sounding enough that a listener could potentially inhabit the world of sound totally, similar to watching a movie in the theater and forgetting that you are in any other world than the movie’s world. From this point of total absorption, it has been my hope that actual shifts in perspective were possible. I don’t want to boss anyone around, but if I can create a deeper nudge towards more curiosity or awareness in a listener it will feel like this work is useful. A sauna is this same exact thing. It is an immersive world that we subject ourselves to in order to create a new understanding, a new and fresh perspective, a raw awareness. When you plunge into icy water after insane heat everything is taken over by a mandatory thought-free deep now, if only momentarily. There are similar moments of clarity possible in music. That is why it’s called “Sauna”.

    As for the economics, I realize that it might sound pretentious or misguided to be aiming for such big ideas but releasing them in the form of short pop-ish songs on cool vinyl LPs. I don’t know. I accidentally started doing it this way as a teenager and it has worked out economically. Over the years as I’ve gotten thirstier for meaning and the ideas have gotten more complex I have remained a participant in the fun-oriented economy of music. A record is funner for people to buy than a book of poems or essays, unfortunately. So I try to do it in the best way I can, fully impure, full of contradictions, trying to understand the shifts in the ways people relate to music and ideas. For now I press records and occasionally books, working hard every day all day but enjoying the freedom of needing no “real job”, free to work on this weird shit. I release everything myself, and I enjoy doing all of the mundane details. I align my work ethic with the historic mentality of early northwest settlers, carving out a stubborn self sufficient existence in a semi-raw place. Anacortes, Washington still feels a little bit like this, just barely. This style of stubbornness chimes well with the punk ideas of the 1980s, although I missed all that growing up in the wet woods.

    Ultimately I have no goal with this stuff other than to explore my own mind. It is a lucky fluke that it is currently working for me to release these things publicly and subsist, but I would probably be doing it anyway. I almost never try to understand how someone else might experience these recordings because it is immediately disorienting, and plus I am a particularly self-enclosed person. This project of private/public art creation requires all kinds of self deception; closing my eyes while performing, smiling and saying thanks, pretending the orders I mail out are unlistened to… but the truth is that I am sensitive to any thematic or lyrical misunderstandings because I actually do want to get my idea across, beyond just me, and I continue to try to get my blade sharper. Making album-length song-worlds is my life’s work and I will continue to try to get at the simple core of the idea.

     
  3. A moment from “Ofelas" (aka "Pathfinder", 1987, Norway, in Saami)

     
  4. MOUNT EERIE TOUR

    Weds. Sept. 10th- Dayton, Wash.- Mace Mead Works, 250 E. Main St., $12/$15

    Thurs. Sept. 11th- Boise, Id.- The Crux 1022 W. Main, $8/$10

    Fri. Sept. 12th- Salt Lake City, Utah- Diabolical Records 22 S. Edison St., $5

    Sat. Sept. 13th- Denver, Colo.- Goldrush Music Fest

    Sun. Sept. 14th- Lawrence, Kan.- Wonder Fair

    Mon. Sept. 15th- Bloomington, In.- The Church, 103 N. Adams, $10, 8:30

    Tues. Sept. 16th- Youngstown, Ohio- Historian Recording Co., 22 S. West Ave., $12 TICKETS

    Weds. Sept. 17th- Purchase, NY- SUNY Purchase

    Thurs. Sept. 18th- Easthampton, Mass.- the Flywheel

    Fri. Sept. 19th- Biddeford, ME- The Oak & The Ax, 140 Main St., suite 107, $10/$12

    Sat. Sept. 20th- Providence, R.I.- Columbus Theatre, 270 Broadway, $13/$15, doors at 8 (with Assembly Of Light Choir) TICKETS

    Sun. Sept. 21st- Middletown, Conn.- Wesleyan University

    Mon. Sept. 22nd- Annandale-on-Hudson, NY- Bard College

    Tues. Sept. 23rd- Brooklyn, NY- The Trans-Pecos, 915 Wyckoff Ave. (Ridgewood), with Mecca Normal, doors at 8pm

    Weds. Sept. 24th- New York, NY- le Poisson Rouge, with Mecca Normal, $15/17, doors at 7pm, TICKETS, live stream

    Thurs. Sept. 25th- Oberlin, OH- Dionysus Club

    Fri. Sept. 26th- Gambier, OH- Kenyon College, Horn Gallery

    Sat. Sept. 27th- Chicago, Ill.- Co-Prosperity Sphere

    Sun. Sept. 28th- Minneapolis, Minn.- the Cedar Cultural Center

    Mon. Sept. 29th- Minot, N.D.- Pangea House

     
  5. Mount Eerie tour poster, September 2014, U.S.A.

     

  6. Songs and notes to accompany the photobook DUST
    published by P.W. Elverum & Sun, June 2014
    get one here and follow along:
    www.pwelverumandsun.com

    This is a wordless book of photographs that has no story and no point. Honestly, it is very difficult to come up with music that relates to the book because for the most part my aim in assembling these images was to convey some kind of statement about impermanence and void. I guess most people would try to relate these ideas with something more visually bleak, but I think it’s very interesting to consider these ideas while walking around in beautiful places, in the midst of the realistic sensory overload that is everyday life. To me, a picture of a new red car parked in front of a dilapidated karate building says “emptiness” because I notice the bushes growing through the window and the many layers of history erasing and replacing each other. Many layers on every page, in every view, all the time every moment, physical matter churning around so constantly that nothing is really solid. Appropriate music for this book would really be non-music, just the sound of a breeze, a trickle of water, traffic, etc. But here are some of my favorite songs anyway and some ideas about how they might relate:


    pages 5 & 6 / 0:00-2:54
    "The Piano Drop" by Tim Hecker (from Ravedeath, 1972)
    The whole album is amazing and deserves to be heard as one piece of music, but for the purposes here this song will do. The glimmer on empty water, the moon in an empty sky, sharp symmetry, a razor horizontal line, a circle. The real wild world occasionally makes straight lines and points, poking our minds open. This music is an excellent interweaving of the wild and the precise.



    pages 9 & 10 / 2:54-4:17
    "Open Field" by Maher Shalal Hash Baz (from “Blues du Jour”)
    The photo on page 9 is literally of the man who made this music, Tori Kudo. On tour in Matsuyama, Japan I had the good luck to spend a morning hanging out with him. I can’t summarize his work here, but the way the figures seem to accidentally pass and miss each other (on both pages) and the disorienting skew of page 10, plus the piercing moon, pretty much capture the sensation of Maher Shalal Hash Baz. Moments of accidental brilliance, constantly.


    pages 11 & 12 / 4:17-6:00
    "Some Lightning" by Thanksgiving (from “Nothing”)
    Specifically the words “the shape of those rocks coming out of the ocean, that is my shape”. These rocks seem to jut out so strikingly that they become charismatic personalities. Mirrored by the mid-summer toasted wild grass on a sloping hill, the atmosphere here is of a young poet hanging out under a tree by the water saying sayings to the inanimate surroundings. This early Thanksgiving song was made by a very young brilliant Adrian Orange, an actual real-life lounging grass-grove poet who went on to write the best songs in human history. I picture him in that grass.


    pages 33 & 34 / 6:00-10:26
    "Generous Palmstroke" by Björk (from Vespertine singles)
    The house on page 34 is a couple blocks from my house. I walk past it daily, listening to music in my headphones. Frequently I listen to this specific Björk song, trying to figure out how she made that close humming texture, while I walk to the studio to work on my own music. Close and spooky and dynamic. I haven’t been able to figure it out but I’ve been listening to it for many years. Many nights I walk past this house’s roses lit like that, dramatically. Both of these images have a similar close and spooky feeling. Unusually intimate.


    pages 41 & 42 / 10:26-16:25
    "Hello Earth" by Kate Bush (from “Hounds of Love”)
    Even though Kate Bush doesn’t always sound so detached from earth (usually persistent and prominent snare hits), this song is totally loosed and floating. These images are from a morning drive through Somerset in southern England. I don’t know where in England Kate Bush is from, but it’s close enough. Wandering through unearthly trees in a British fog, thinking of generations past, diverting frequently into spooky eastern European mens’ choirs, voices from behind trunks. These trees almost look like a set from a movie, but it was really like that.


    pages 49 & 50 / 16:25-19:32
    "Over Dark Water" by Mount Eerie (from “Clear Moon”)
    OK, yeah, I know, it’s taboo for me to put my own song on this list, but it is very appropriate. This image on page 50 is exactly of what the song is about. This photo was taken on Deception Pass bridge late into a sunset, looking west. You can see the strip of orange sky through a slit in the clouds, out past beyond the dark water and the blinking green light of a lighthouse. Geneviève, the singer in the song, appears at an unnatural elevation, lit from the side by distant headlights. The song is about mentally riding on those high winds, like valkyries or witches, westward over these exact waters towards the ocean, illuminated orange and wild. The murk on page 49 is the tumult of the water below, the distorted bass.


    pages 83 & 84, plus 91 & 92 / 19:32-30:05
    "Wanderer Above The Sea Of Fog" by Wolves In The Throne Room (from “Black Cascade”)
    Pages 83 & 84 are meant to basically scream “Pacific Northwest”. The image of Snoqualmie Falls is hopefully immediately recognizable from the opening credits of Twin Peaks, appearing here as a lazy visual shortcut, but foggier. The shredded massive cedar trunk feels like a scream to me. I don’t know what could do this to a tree. Epic forces exist here. Wolves In The Throne Room is definitely the music for these images. Their whole project is to give voice to this epic force, specifically Pacific Northwestern, in an exaggerated and sacred way. This song in particular starts with a pretty amazing primal scream, something definitely coming up from beneath. The title is a reference to a painting I love by Caspar David Friedrich of a lone wanderer looking out over an “other world” type of landscape, back to the viewer, weird and alien and symmetrical. The image on page 92 is a nod to that painting: 3 figures watching an indistinguishable orb in a copper night fog. The vivid sharpness of the stars on page 91 is also found in the music, chiming in the overtones (if you listen to it loud enough).


    pages 107 & 108 / 30:05-34:09
    "Renihiliation" by Liturgy (from “Renihiliation”)
    Two thick black metal songs in a row, sorry. I think it is necessary to do it all the way if you’re going to do it at all. Liturgy makes music like a very sharp blade. It is precise and enveloping. It brings me immediately to another place, cold and clear. These 2 images, blasting through piercing snow in a car and arriving in the thickest of white walls of snow, so thick that everything goes dark, this is the feeling of Liturgy’s music. They call it “transcendental black metal” and I agree. It is a movement to a brighter place, not darker, but somehow so blindingly brighter that it feels like a wall of white noise. It might as well be black. That wall of trees might as well be solid.


    pages 131 & 132 / 34:09-37:39
    "Tirili Tovann" by Kirsten Bråten Berg (from “Nordisk Sang” compilation)
    Page 131 was taken in western Norway, traveling up the fjord, up the river, into the mountains. This is a traditional Norwegian song. I’m not sure what it’s about exactly but I made out the word “skogen” (forest). It is easy to picture Kirsten Bråten Berg on that ridge in the background, singing out to a neighbor 2 fjords over, like Swiss yodeling but much more beautiful, like a bird that can fly super high and loves getting whipped around on the high atmospheres, or like a wild river that gracefully consumes tree groves. The placid river scene on page 132 is at home in the Skagit Valley and is also a component of that music, the omnipresent low drone note on the fiddle.


    pages 57, 58, 59 & 60 / 37:39-42:26
    "Aavehuminaa (Katjalle)" by Es (from “Kaikkeuden kauneus ja käsittämättömyys”)
    This is the sound of my imagined version of Finland, made by actual Finnish people. These first 3 images are in Helsinki. There is no picture of a sauna here, but the feeling is there. Inside those ordered buildings on 57 & 58 (taken a year apart incidentally) there is clearly some coziness happening, behind an iconic birch trunk and a grid of walls and window coverings. On 59, a power plant and the setting sun’s glow stand in for the transforming otherworldly sauna feeling. Out of nowhere a stack of trucks blasts across west Texas, into a new thing, like the ice plunge wakeup. This song by Es is one of my favorites ever and brings me immediately to a snowy tundra in my mind, high winds whistling and squealing, opening the door to a tiny hot room where everything transforms.

     
  7. Woah.  This picture I made just cracked 100,000 tumbls.  Maybe a few of you international 17 yr. old emotional types would enjoy my book of pictures called “Dust”?  This photo is in there, plus many other better ones.

    www.pwelverumandsun.com/store

    (Source: pwelverumandsun, via w-huh)

     

  8. anacortesunknown:

    The Anacortes Unknown Music Series needs a hand!
    We are having a volunteer meeting on Wednesday July 16th 2014 at 4:30PM at the Unknown (1202 B 7th St., Anacortes, WA - upstairs).
    Volunteer spots are first come first served, signing up for two or more spots grants you access to all shows…

     
  9. anacortesunknown:

    ANNOUNCING THE SCHEDULE:
    (and you can still buy a pass if you haven’t yet.)

    Friday, July 18th, 2014
    7pm to midnight at the Unknown, 1202 7th St. (upstairs)
    STEPHEN STEINBRINK
    TOM BLOOD & JORDAN DYKSTRA
    EVER ENDING KICKS
    MOUNT EERIE
    MECCA NORMAL
    STEVE KADO’S 2003

    Saturday, July 19th, 2014
    8am to 4pm up and down the street
    SHIPWRECK DAY

    11am to noon at Industrious Industries, 1005 8th St.
    DUST by Phil Elverum, book launch and gallery reception

    noon to 4pm at the Unknown, 1202 7th St. (upstairs)
    SMALL PRESS BOOK FAIR

    noon to 4pm at Causland Park, 7th St. & N Ave.
    SCARS & SCARVES
    LOVERS WITHOUT BORDERS
    AUTOCOCOON
    SPECTERS
    SLASHED TIRES
    ENDURO

    5pm to 7pm, at the Croatian Club, 1202 7th St. (downstairs)
    DINNER SHOW (full pass holders only)
    food by HOGSTONE’S
    D+
    ANDERS NILSEN

    7pm to midnight at the Unknown, 1202 7th St. (upstairs)
    BLACK BELT EAGLE SCOUT
    HUNGRY CLOUD DARKENING
    MALAIKAT DAN SINGA
    BOUQUET
    EAGER (movie)
    LORI GOLDSTON
    BONNIEPRINCEBILLY

    Sunday, July 20th, 2014
    noon to 4pm at the Unknown, 1202 7th St. (upstairs)
    SMALL PRESS BOOK FAIR

    1pm to 5pm at Causland Park, 7th St. & N Ave.
    HIVE DWELLERS
    LE TON MITÉ
    DAVID FERGUSON
    THE CRABS
    LA TAKEDOWN

    6pm to 10pm at the Unknown, 1202 7th St. (upstairs)
    TENEBRE
    NICHOLAS KRGOVICH
    BROKEN WATER
    longsong with nonviolent ww2 aircraft video montage (movie)
    Ô PAON
    LAKE

     
  10. Dust by Phil Elverum

    9” x 12.5”, 132+48 pages, hardcover, all color

    P.W. Elverum & Sun, June 2014

     
  11. The yard moves.  Anacortes, Wash., May 24th, 2014

     
  12. Here are some more previews of DUST by Phil Elverum, which releases June 17th.  It’s a fancy wordless book of rich photographs, bound in heavy linen, containing a wild real world, including an auxiliary small booklet.  Get yours earlier by pre-ordering now here:

    www.pwelverumandsun.com/store

     
  13.  
  14. Lobot Gallery, Oakland, Weds. June 11th, 2014

     
  15. anacortesunknown:

    FOOD:

    We just met with the folks at Hogstone's on Orcas Island to discuss the dinner plans for this July's festival and we are beyond thrilled.  It is going to be locally sourced and delicious (and legit).  Everyone will pump their fists in the air. 

    There aren’t many full passes left, so get yours now before they are sold out.  (This is the only way to get to the Dinner Show on Saturday, July 19th.)

    www.anacortesunknown.com


    (photos from Hogstone’s website)