Mount Eerie 11 Old Songs of Mount Eerie

The project formerly known as the Microphones has struck again with this sweet little oddball of a sophomore release. Following hot on the heels of No Flashlight, Mount Eerie’s "official” debut, 11 Old Songs is comprised mostly of compositions performed during the extensive 2003 tour that served as the segue between young mystic Phil Elverum’s Microphones and Mount Eerie phases — songs assumedly composed before those found on No Flashlight. The thing that makes it an oddball release, besides this confusing history, is that Elverum, usually a lo-fi wizard with spells to spare, recorded most of the songs here with only a cheap Casio-style keyboard for accompaniment. This treatment adds a strange feeling to the songs that considerably takes away from their potential depths, but occasionally produces emotionally astounding and strangely appropriate results. The real standout of the album is "The Dead of Night,” normally a call-and-response concert number, however, for this recording Elverum loops different layers of crowds crooning "Oh, I died” and let’s them fall slowly out of synch with each other, à la Steve Reich’s "It’s Gonna Rain.” The results are powerful enough to reduce you to tears, but then that cheesy keyboard comes in again, and you’re left wondering, "Why?” (P.W. Elverum & Sun, Ltd.)