Since releasing the companion albums Clear Moon and Ocean Roar in 2012, Mount Eerie songwriter Phil Elverum has turned his attentions to slightly more eclectic projects, releasing those albums in condensed form on a 7-inch and reworking some of the songs with AutoTune for 2013's Pre-Human Ideas. Now, Elverum has started work on new material, in addition to preparing a photo book.
"It's been a productive winter in the studio," Elverum tells Exclaim! The Pacific Northwest songwriter notes that he's been working "very slowly, starting very abstract and weird and kind of wrestling these things into song form. But I've finished, I think, four songs."
It's too early to say exactly how these songs will be released, or even if they will end up being part of the same project. Elverum says that they channel the "heavy" sound that has emerged on recent Mount Eerie albums.
"The songs are pretty long and complicated," he says. "The studio — in between my last album and this, we upgraded to a 24-track. It used to be 16. It's so many tracks to work with. It's more than I've ever worked with, so the songs are denser and more hi-fi, almost."
Elverum explains that he mostly listens to soundtracks and instrumental music, but adds that his own material isn't instrumental. "I can't bring myself to release an instrumental album because I feel like I want some meat on the bone," he reflects. "Something to chew on, lyrically and content-wise. I start with the aim of making something instrumental, and then I'm just like, 'Agh, no, it's not interesting enough. I've got to say something here.'"
There's no projected completion date for the next album. In the meantime, Elverum will be releasing a hardcover photo book called DUST through his P.W. Elverum & Sun label. He hopes to have it out in May, and he promises that the 180-page tome will be "very classy looking."
He reveals, "It's just all photos. There's no words. The last photo book [2007's Mount Eerie pts. 6 & 7] had a record that came with it, but this one doesn't. It's going to be really nice. I'm very happy with how it's turning out."
All of the photos were taken by Elverum, and there's no narrative or focus. Many of the photos were taken in the Pacific Northwest, but others were taken overseas in Japan or Helsinki. Elverum notes that the pictures "are works of art that are not about anything, necessarily."
He may organize a couple of exhibitions of photos from DUST in conjunction with the book's release. "Even though I don't formally participate in the gallery art world, I'm interested in those things and I read about them a lot, so I'm just inviting myself to that party," he says.
Additionally, Elverum will be reissuing Toronto songwriter Wyrd Visions' 2006 album Half-Eaten Guitar through P.W. Elverum & Sun. It will be out "probably in March."