Reviewed Mar 17, 2017 (updated Mar 24, 2017)
P. Elverum´s recent learning-process about dealing with the death of a beloved-one is at full exposure on his new LP as Mount Eerie, A Crow Looked at Me (an incredibly suitable title at that). Here, the famous singer/songwriter takes the most bare tools at his disposal and crafts a last requiem for his deceased wife, seemingly hopeful she will look at him from the skies and receive his most honest message.
Anyone going into this album might be surprised by the sheer open-hearted quality of all these songs, and for how they work not as a regular day-to-day musical album with actual songs in it - at least the song-format we may be used to hear from his output as Mount Eerie. The fact that such a release exists is proof of the endless power of music not only as media or product or a tangible, accessible communication mean, but, as displayed by Elverum himself (and maybe not in a totally spontaneous, conscious way), as an almost unspeakable, transcendental path for personal redemption and even salvation, working in and under a completely emancipated language, without any rules or conventions to be, somehow, suppressed, or defined.
Having said that, it is only but a human flaw (and a shameless one, as well) that we're here at this time and place, sitting by the computer and trying hard to evaluate such a personal and intimate translation of feelings, only because, sometime in his life, Elverum has tried to release something to actually be enjoyed and appreciated by others in a worldwide scale. His many gifts to humanity have already been taken into account and he has been (deservingly) placed among some of the most interesting artists in recent memory, by countless music aficionados in and out of the internet realm, so it is only natural, one might say, that we rush in to listen to his new endeavour and rate it as high or low as we feel like doing (as we do, on a regular basis, with so many releases, day after day, week after week), eager as we may be, to see how far this new dark and melancholic work will be ranked among his many studio albums. In the end, we do enjoy our share of melancholic music, don't we?
Yes, this album, or whatever you may call it, is registered here for your pleasure, and we are free to rate it as spontaneously as we feel like doing. Is it correct to do so? Is it correct to translate into numbers and exact values something that definitely wasn't supposed to be perceived as such? Implying there is a right and wrong to this, anyhow...
Either way, this is unique. As are all of us as human beings, as walking-pieces of flesh and bone, and as independent consciousness containers, and this album is a proof of each and every one of our own particular means of dealing with death and how we see what lies beyond this world. Many have approached the subject recently, and even though the sonic results may be somehow, similar (Carrie & Lowell, for example), there is just too much stripped-down emotion, love, grief and personal substance here - the type we can't, no matter how hard we try, summarize, because we don't actually know how it works, and not only because it works differently in each of us, but because it is something that connects us in ways yet unimaginable.
Should we enjoy it? Should we embrace it as we embrace our idols after they put out masterpieces established by whatever means we have at our disposal to actually evaluate them? Probably not, but here we are, talking about death, discussing a husband's own final letter to his wife, and, finally, rating it a perfect score because it reaches just too damn deeply.