Monday, June 27, 2011

Between Two Mysteries - Mount Eerie at St. Cecilia's Church

A first live encounter with a band that you've only known on record is always an experience charged with possibility. Will they recreate the sound of their records, or take the music to a different place? Will they play my favorite song? Will I gain a deeper insight into the message of the music from hearing it from the source in real time?
I was pretty obsessed with Mount Eerie's last record, Wind's Poem. I had heard some of Phil Elverums' work with the Microphones, which was fascinating but I never spent as much time with that music as I did with Mount Eerie. Mr. Elverum is a lo-fi producer mastermind, and Wind's Poem has a very unique and stunning palette of sound. Supposedly inspired by black metal, there are crushing walls of electric guitar and blurry washes of drums, with everything filtered through a warm analog impressionistic lens.
Beneath all this are haunting and mysterious songs that hint at some kind of concept album. The lyrics consistently invoke images of nature; wind, stones, trees. I've always loved stuff like this. I like music that offers a kind of puzzle that you have to figure out, a landscape that you can read your own meanings into.
As I was listening to Wind's Poem for the first time, my ears pricked up when I came to the song "Between Two Mysteries", which references the theme music to Twin Peaks. He even name drops the David Lynch TV series in the lyrics to make it more explicit.

"The town rests in the valley beneath twin peaks, buried in space.
What goes up there in the night, in that dark, blurry place?"

There's definitely a spiritual affinity between the mysterious music on Wind's Poem and the surreal world of Twin Peaks. And both the band and the show are from Washington state.

But back to the concert. I had heard very mixed things about Phil Elverum's live shows. I'd heard that he sometimes arrived with just an acoustic guitar and improvised, or that he would invite people from the audience to come onstage and play instruments. I was relieved when he came onstage with an electric guitar backed by a synth player and they launched into songs from Wind's Poem. The setting of St. Celelia's Church in Greenpoint gave the music even more of an otherworldly, ethereal air.

Here's a clip of them performing a new song.

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