The Microphones - Microphones in 2020
Aug 7, 2020
97
The Microphones in 2020 is only an album by its namesake, in many ways. Rather, the work feels more like a memoir set to music; like sitting down with your friend after their vacation, showing you photos of their experience and telling you about the parts of the world they got to see.

Unlike those instances of watching the experience of others, which can often become tiresome and frankly exhausting, the storybook of Phil Elverum under The Microphones moniker is entirely gripping. The method in which he dictates his life at various points, from being a child to touring as a musician and beyond, is confessional and beautiful in its unique subtleties. The lyrics, similar to how he spoke on A Crow Looked At Me, are direct in their experience but nuanced in their meaning. Elverum challenges the listener to indulge in his life story and try to attain meaning out of the meaninglessness that he constantly ponders on as a human.

The entirety of Microphones in 2020 is innovative, from its unmatched flow from front to back as one entire track to the photo flip audio book style of presentation, that makes this different from not only anything Elverum has ever done but truthfully from any other musician. This isn't just a peek into the life of another human but rather an entire display - his experiences, his thoughts, the places he's seen and even the kinds of things that he as a person finds beauty in. Elverum challenges the listener once again to hone in on every word and take the beauty of his artistic eye and mesh the two together, allowing the full body of his work to expand and stretch out over the 45 minutes it plays through.

The instrumentation builds up these experiences, remaining at a hushed acoustic state for eight wordless minutes and maintaining itself throughout the majority of the playtime. Only in the most important moments do additional sounds come into play, like distorted guitar chords or the slam of a cymbal. These small flairs are used only to enunciate powerful and essential moments for the listener to understand, or to mark shifts in Elverum's life. It's a rare moment where music, words, and imagery all play their part in guiding the consumer to exactly where their attention should lie.

The decision to return to The Microphones as a title is in every way intentional, even detailed within the song itself. After seventeen years Elverum is reflecting on his life and experiences, asking us to come along, and in many ways coexist in his nostalgia. The project, as he proclaims, could never be truly disbanded nor reunited as it is merely him taking on the form he existed in in his early life. It's in its own strange way a piece of the story behind it all - Elverum is reflecting, and is doing so not only on his younger self but as his younger self.

Every piece of The Microphones in 2020 is art, beauty, and human. Even without a basic understanding of his life Elverum takes the listeners hand and helps them along so that any can feel the warmth of his journey. It's impossible not to hang on his poetic language, blunt reality, and vivid imagery. The Microphones in 2020 is a story about human experience and meaning - something so directly tied to every person in this world impossible not to deeply resonate.

Favorite track: The Microphones in 2020
2 Comments
Aug 9, 2020
[hidden]
Aug 10, 2020
You’re welcome, Phil.
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