i remember my life as if it's just some dreams that i don't trust
November 24, 2020 10:29 AM   Subscribe

Microphones in 2020 is a 45 minute long autobiographical song (with accompany 35mm photograph slideshow lyric video), a self-described "spooling out repetitive decades-long song string" detailing the life and times of Phil Elverum's early band The Microphones in the late 90s and early 2000s.
posted by dng (3 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
[insert 10k word essay on a lifetime listening to phil elverum projects, he said half-jokingly, and then proceeded to deliver...]

The Pitchfork review is pretty good reading on this one. It's kinda hilarious seeing this get a decent amount of press for dusting off an old band name, arbitrarily changed like 15 years ago. But it's also good work, and the retrospective stance is fun to explore.

(fwiw, my favorite mt eerie album, which I go back to most often, is the Lost Wisdom album with Julie Doiron. The recent followup is also pretty great.)

I first saw Phil play at a tiny art gallery in Eugene, Oregon, along with Yacht (back when it was just Jonah, a laptop, and one hilariously tiny LED pyramid light sync'ed to the computer). He came in, played a bunch of songs that were apparently written that morning, probably never to be sung again, and took off. Many of my strongest memories of time in Eugene are tied up in the Olympia music scene; a house show with Adrian Orange, a basement show with Karl Blau, a warehouse show with Old Time Relgion. That last is another of Phil's side projects; I had a copy of their gloriously unhinged "manifesto" posted in my office in grad school for a long time.

More recently, I saw Phil play in SF during Noisepop a couple years ago. It was an interesting night; I went to see Florist open for some other band I didn't care about at the Filmore, then skipped out immediately after her set and ran twenty blocks to catch Phil play at the Swedish American Hall. When I got there, the doors still hadn't opened, so I got to see the completely-enchanting Magic Magic Roses open. And then Phil played A Crow Looked at Me, with (iirc) a few songs from what would become Now Only. Probably one of the most emotionally gutting performances I've ever seen.

The last time I saw Mt Eerie, they were opening for Big Thief. Adrienne Lenker seemed kinda starstruck when she came out to say thanks at the end of the set.

I guess that's more an inventory of shows attended than anything. The other 9.5k words are omitted, for now, at least.
posted by kaibutsu at 11:00 AM on November 24, 2020 [5 favorites]

As someone of Elverum's generation who was also living on the West Coast in the 90s/00's, I find this album deeply lovely and almost uncannily familiar.

His reminiscences of youth capture what it is to feel intimately in touch with the big open enormity of the world. The passage about running around the movie theater parking lot all energized after seeing Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, for example, as a moment of memoir it is just... perfect.

And then there's how he expresses the weight of today - the not having answered anything, the recognition that life now is intricately difficult and that this makes the delicious simplicity of life then look different too. The music shows this perspective in its shape - there's an almost droning repetitious extension of certain passages beyond the natural moment of their ending (and then further still), and then these surprise moments when the music suddenly builds, gaining complexity or detail or volume - gosh it's just beautifully done.

Tl;dr: thanks for posting this one. It's a lovely album of memoir and personal reflection, worthy of a close patient listen (especially if you're near Elverum's age).
posted by marlys at 11:26 AM on November 24, 2020 [4 favorites]

Ahhh, he played my house in 2000 or 2001 with Mirah, I think. One of maybe two shows we had there. Good fun.
posted by look busy at 12:04 PM on November 24, 2020 [2 favorites]

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