The Microphones - Mount Eerie
100
One day we will all come to face our Mount Eerie, whether it’s a death of someone we love, or the time in our lives where we are at our lowest, contemplating death, Mount Eerie will reveal itself to us, and we will have to take the journey, and take that climb up that hill.

Mount Eerie to me is Phil Elverum’s magnum opus, it combines everything I love about his music into one long song, one huge journey. It’s an album that feels like you’re experiencing it all with him. Today I want to take a deep dive into this record, I’ve wanted to for a bit but the night before I began writing this was when I decided to sit
down and do it. For the past couple days, me and a very good friend (and amazing artist) have been doing a deep dive into Phil’s discography. We began on the cassette X-Ray Means Woman and are currently on Blood. We reached The Glow Pt. 2 last night, and decided that we would, instead of going onto the next album that was released (which was Blood), we would instead go straight to the album Mount Eerie, as both albums are connected, in fact My Warm Blood transitions perfectly into The Sun. Once we finished Mount Eerie we then went ahead and listened to Universe Conclusion off of the Japan Live album and then finally Mount Eerie Parts 6 & 7 from Phil’s Mount Eerie project. We decided to do this as me and him both adore Mount Eerie, the album. We both think it’s Phil’s best project to date, and we wanted to go through this entire journey together, from start to finish.

Now technically the story doesn’t begin on The Glow Pt. 2, it begins on It Was Hot, We Stayed in the Water, off of the song The Glow. That’s the song that begins everything, so that’s where I want to start to. This review isn’t going to solely focus on the album Mount Eerie, while the album is the most important part to this story, there’s more to it than just that album. You need to understand what happens before, and what happens after, and I want to be the one who explains it all to you, to the best of my ability at least. So, I hope you all enjoy this deep dive into what I consider to be Phil Elverum’s best album, Mount Eerie.

Mount Eerie’s saga begins on the song The Glow off of the aforementioned album It Was Hot, We Stayed in the Water. This is a song that personifies a feeling that a lot of people tend to get when they look at the person they love, or talk to them or even think about them. The Glow is that feeling of warmth in your heart when you talk to them, it’s an amazing feeling that I can’t really describe in detail, but you’ll know what it is when it happens. It’s a wonderful feeling to get. The Glow is that thing you see in them, when you look into their eyes you see their soul glowing in front of you, you know they’re the one… or at least you think you do. The song gives The Glow a voice and personality, and depicts them as a higher being who visits Phil, and makes him feel happy.
“I started to glow, oh
Oooooh
And it felt just like
Being pulled out by the tide
I held onto your side
We swam till it got light
'Cause the blue was deep and wide”
The Glow infects Phil as well, and we see him start to glow as well. This feeling of love that has infested him has caused him to feel warm inside, causing him to glow out too. Think of it like two ships at sea, lost in the fog, nowhere to go, but then they see each other, they see their dim ship lights in the distance and they quickly head towards each other. While it may not save them, it can make them feel less alone in this time of crisis. The ships come together to make one bigger glow, a glow big enough to push away the fog and let them see land once again. The Glow is that sight, the fog clearing, happiness coming back to your body, because you’ve finally found someone who shares your glow.

I’d like to think of it as everyone has a unique glow to them, everyone glows, but they’re all different, sort of like how there are certain lights we can’t see with the naked eye. Each person has a different glow that only one other person can reciprocate. There is someone out there who shares that same glow as you, the same light that you can see around them, and they can see around you. You know exactly who they are when you see them, they could be anyone, but you know they’re the one with the glow as soon as you see them, you can feel it. But… what happens when if the glow disappears?

This takes us into The Glow Pt. 2, the sequel album to the song The Glow. This album details what happens when that glow disappears, when The Glow is no longer inside of either you or them, and how painful that can be. Like a lightbulb shattering in your heart, the shards sticking to the edges, wedging themselves eternally into your body. I’m not going to dwell on this record, as this is not the purpose of this review, this is a review of Mount Eerie not The Glow Pt. 2, but it’s important to explain the significance of this record in context with Mount Eerie. The Glow Pt. 2 is a concept record that focuses around the breakup that Phil just went through, the same relationship that was discussed in the original The Glow. Originally that’s all that this album really was, while it was really detailed, I don’t think many people expected there to be so much more to it than there was. As The Glow Pt. 2 progresses Phil slowly loses his composure, beginning on the song Map we see the beginning of the end. We see Phil slowly losing his grasp on reality, doing drastic things, panicking, screaming. He recounts memories he had with her, with them, with The Glow, before they went out. In the song The Glow Pt. 2 Phil directly acknowledges this in its lyrics.
“I took my shirt off in the yard
No one saw that the skin on my shoulders was golden
Now it's not
My shirt's back on
I forgot my songs
The glow is gone
My gliding body stopped”
Phil wore his heart on his sleeve when he was with The Glow, but now that they’re gone, his heart is torn. Phil’s “golden shoulders” represent this. That feeling of both letting yourself go, but also wearing your emotions on your sleeve, hoping someone can help you, but no one can because your glow is gone, but, not only that. Your soul has darkened.

As Phil further falls into this pit of sorrow as the album progresses. We finally get to Samurai Sword and My Warm Blood, two of the most important tracks on the album for this story to unfold. Samurai Sword sees Phil killed brutally by a bear, and My Warm Blood sees Phil slowly bleeding out, before eventually dying on the cold ground in the forest, alone, only the birds and insects to keep him company.
That sound. That sound that plays throughout My Warm Blood is very important, it’s an oddly calming sound yet, it feels ominous as well, like a swell of wind in the distance. It sounds nice from afar but you wouldn’t want to be caught in it. This sound isn’t only on this song though, in fact, it plays throughout the entire record, faintly in the background every once in a while, you start to hear it. It becomes more prominent as the album reaches its climax, before finally giving six minutes at the end of My Warm Blood to this sound, as the rest of the album fades in and out, as if Phil’s life is flashing before his eyes. A couple hours before I began to write this, my friend, the same one who I listened to this with said something that really stuck with me, and made a lot of sense. This entire album could be Phil’s life flashing before his eyes, as portrayed by that sound repeating over and over throughout the record. The album are Phil’s final memories before he eventually dies, but does he really die?

This then takes us to our centrepiece, our main album. Mount Eerie. My Warm Blood transitions directly into The Sun (the opening track to Mount Eerie). Mount Eerie is Phil’s idea of an afterlife. It’s not heaven nor is it hell, it’s a limbo between life and death, it is the mountain you must climb to reach the afterlife… but it isn’t a possible climb to do. The Sun begins with just over ten minutes of intense drumming and trumpets, noises coming from every angle, practically blowing out your speakers, it’s incredibly intense and quite overwhelming, but it’s one of the best intros of all time, it sets the tone perfectly for what you’re about to go through. It’s loud, it’s abrasive but it’s beautiful as well.

Phil wakes up on this strange island, he has no idea where he is, but that sound still persists, that drone that followed us throughout the Glow Pt. 2, but this time it’s a lot more ominous, it’s a lot more abrasive, it’s loud. As the faint guitars from I Want Wind to Blow fade out into the distance, into the fog that surrounds this island. Those trumpets sound from the heavens, as slowly, the heartbeat kicks in. This heartbeat was faint in My Warm Blood, it was a faint beating that carried throughout the entire song, portraying Phil slowly dying, but he’s content with it. He’s accepted it. After a couple minutes of beating hearts and heavenly trumpets sounding, those drums kick in. The drums that will tear you to shreds. Phil lies there on the sand of the beach, still out cold as this island absorbs his soul. He doesn’t know where he is, so he stays put, trying to collect himself. He looks around to see if there’s anything of note around him, he notices one thing. A huge mountain in front of him, a mountain taller than anything he’d ever seen before, going up into the heavens, he couldn’t see the top of it, but he could see there was a clear path he had to follow, up the mountain. As he sat there for longer, he continues to survey his surroundings. Those drums get louder, more intense. He sees nothing around him for miles and miles, the oceans surrounding him are empty and desolate, the waves slow and calm. Everything is calm… too calm. Just like that a gust of wind blows Phil forwards, he’s pushed across the sand as it covers his clothes, he tries to stand up but can’t as the wind is too strong, it carries him across the beach and onto the grass ahead, as the wind lets up, and he’s left on the grass one resounding trumpet plays. A trumpet louder than anything he had ever heard before, ear-piercing. The drums kick in and he knows he has to run. He gets up and sprints into the forest, not looking back, the waves pick up and the trees start to blow in the wind, leaves falling onto the grassy ground. He runs deeper into the forest ahead of him, not looking where he’s going, running deep. It’s dark, he stops to catch his breath, and looks back. Through the clearing he created he sees it. King Black Death waiting for him in the ocean. The Big Black Cloud is coming. He hears another trumpet, coming from behind him, he starts to run again, faster than before, he knows he has to make it to the bottom of the mountain. Birds caw from above him, he can hear the voices of people, past memories surrounding him as he continues to run through this seemingly endless forest. Branches slap across his face and leave gashes and bruising, but he doesn’t care. He just needs to make it through these trees before King Black Death gets to him. He slows down, running out of breath but those drums don’t let up, the sound of a stream distracts him for a little as he goes to get a drink. He makes the mistake of looking back once again, and there he is, King Black Death in his Big Black Cloud, looming over Phil as he stands there motionless. He starts to run again, splashing through the puddles and rain that is now falling from the cloud, he needs to escape. He can see the shadow of the cloud falling on him as he runs, he picks up his pace, he didn’t even know he could run this fast. Faster, faster, faster, faster!

“See me wave my handkerchief on the shore
See my arm raised high”

Phil stands at the bottom of the mountain, The Big Black Cloud has stopped following him, it resides inside of the forest along with King Black Death perched on top. He doesn’t have long so he begins to climb up the mountain, using the protruding ledges to get his grip on, the rocks are cold to his fingers but he has no choice but to ascend.
“See that ship sail off with its sails aloft
And see me dry my eyes
And see more salty tears flow
As my house is blown wide”
He climbs higher and sees further out to sea, he stops for a moment, hands clenched tightly over one of the jagged edges, his feet on small protruding cracks. He looks out to sea and he sees nothing around him, the only thing near is the big black cloud that hovers ominously over the forest. He then begins to see a ship, out to sea. It’s slowly sailing towards the island, it’s big and metal. It’s reminiscent of the Titanic, maybe it is? He continues to climb before reaching a cliff face, he crawls up and rests for a moment, not having to keep himself held up any longer, as he sits he sees his home in front of him, sitting, abandoned in the centre of the rocks. It’s a flat terrain surrounding the house, steep drops a couple of centimetres away from each side. He walks up to it slowly, seeing the windows open and the curtains blowing from the inside, he feels a sudden gust of wind before his entire home is blown up from the inside in front of him. Glass and debris flies everywhere, off the side of the mountain and barely missing Phil as well, but he doesn’t move, he only stands and stares, his face emotionless besides the tears that have accumulated around his eyes, dripping down his cheeks slowly, dripping onto the floor with a silent splash. No sound can be heard from anywhere at all, only the sound of the wind now gone soft, blowing gently against Phil’s body, blowing the tears from his face and onto the cold, grey ground as he stares at where his house once stood, the plot now empty, as if forgotten by the world… forgotten by the mountain.
“And see me watch the waves roll in from somewhere
See me squint my eyes
See me learn to live without my loved ones
See me scan the skies and
See the flock of birds' goodbye
And turn to go inside”
He continues to stare out to sea, that ship slowly sailing closer to the shore, he now realises the size of this thing, it seems to be taller than the height he is at currently, it towers upwards and while he can see the top, he can’t see the roof of the ship. It goes higher than he is, and may reach the halfway point of the mountain. He feels small, and insignificant as he looks around him, seeing the now quite small forest below him and the big black cloud still hovering above him, around three quarters of the way up the mountain King Black Death sits on his cloudy throne. Phil feels small and insignificant. He always has. Birds fly past him, over the top of the forest high above the trees, but at the same level he is at, crows, crows… what do they mean? He walks to where his home once stood and stands in the centre of it. Its shadow, he stands in the shadow of the mountain, the ghost of where his home stood. Alone and lost, but he knows he has to keep going, he can’t stop now.

“But I feel you
On my neck:
You are a ball of fire!”

“See me reach up
See me touch my neck
And see my fingers recoil”
He continues his climb, now quite a ways away from his previous resting point, his arms feel sore from supporting this much weight and he can feel his legs slipping slightly with each step, but he must continue onwards. He feels the wind blow against the back of his neck, a chill sent down his spine. Is it The Universe again? Speaking to him. He can hear the silent humming of a voice up above, which gives him the energy to keep going, maybe there’s someone up there, maybe he isn’t so alone… just maybe he’ll have someone in his life who stays.
“See me look at you
And lose my sight
And while my eyes burned I saw it
Oh, no!”
He looks back out to sea, the ship coming closer and closer, almost touching the shore now, its front end protrudes outwards far, already casting a shadow over the shoreline before it’s even hit the sand. Phil can see now truly how big this ship is, it towers over everything, everything except the mountain before him… nothing is taller than Mount Eerie.
“H-here comes a black ship
Rising under red sail
See it fill the sky!
See it billow up!”
It crashes onto the shore! Tearing into the sand and shows no signs of stopping, Phil panics and quickly begins to climb faster and faster, he can hear the trees below being crushed under the weight of the ship as it forces its way through the insignificant wildlife below. Phil panics and his hand slips multiple times, losing his grip and almost falling, bits of rock fall down from above him, as he feels the mountain begin to tremble as the ship edges closer. He looks over and sees the tip of the ship practically pressed up to his face. He picks up the pace, faster, faster. His hands bleed as he cuts himself on the rocks but he has to keep going, it’s the only way he can go, up.

“And hear their scary trumpets!”

Trumpets echo from the big black cloud above him. Their volume shakes the earth and he sees the ship stop in its tracks, the tip pressed against the side of the mountain, its shadow cast against it. He continues to climb, feeling his hands ache as he rests for a short period, knowing its safe… for now. He looks up at the big black cloud, seeing it float above him ominously, yet it saved his life, was it meant for him? Or was it just a failsafe for the mountain, a trick to scare Phil.
“See me run in terror for the mountain
See me scramble high and
See me burned and blind
And all hopeless and barren
See me sprawled out
See me crawl and whine
See me search for signs”
Mount Eerie isn’t only a place for Phil to be at, it is a place for all. While Phil may feel he is the only one there are the moment, there are in fact others, yet none can see each other. These other trapped souls lay crushed beneath the ship, as they were not fast enough to escape. They don’t get their second chance anymore, they were too slow in the shadow of King Black Death.

“Oh no! I am lacking
I want what I see”
Phil makes it to another cliff edge, another place to rest. He sits down and takes another look around, looking to see if anything around him has changed. The surrounding area has shifted slightly, it’s as if the mountain knows his struggles, his fears, it can read him perfectly. He sees far below another version of himself, sitting in the forest, is he younger? Older? He sits on a log and seems to be thinking about something. He looks happy.
“So here I am in the creekbed
So here I feel my way, in the dark
What wonder? What treasure map?
What breaking of day?
What stream used to flow here?”
Phil gets up from the log and walks into the forest, deeper into the trees, walking slowly taking in the atmosphere, the birds and the insects flying about him, the leaves blowing in the wind softly, it’s tranquil. He thinks about his life at this current moment, what’s going on in his world and what could happen in the future, he feels happy with his current world. He has a wife who loves him and a daughter on the way, his wife is also getting better, things are looking up for once, he remains hopeful as he continues to walk deeper into the forest, admiring the trees around him before stopping at a lake. He stands over the water and looks down at his reflection, it looks back at him. He sees himself of course, but he sees more, he sees his soul, his past, his pain. He remembers those things that have happened in the past and while painful they were, reminisces for them. The time where he was younger and he could do so much more, back to when he first met Geneviève.
“Let the flash flood begin!
Wash me down the canyon!
Quicksand pull me in!
Blow over me, Solar Wind”
He stays for a little longer, feeling the eyes of The Universe on him, a feeling he hadn’t felt for a while. He looks deeper into the still water before him, looking deeper than his reflection, deeper than the fish, deeper than the waterbed below.

Phil watches from the clifftop as he sees himself looking into the river, an older version of him he has now worked out. He stands and watches with bewilderment, confused but intrigued as to what this mountain was, what it is. Is it magical? Is any of this even real, is he dreaming? It feels real, it must be… right? He gets up and feels another gust of wind hit the back of his neck, another chill sent down his spine. He looks up and sees the unending climb before him, while he has reached a high point, it almost feels like nearly no progress has been made, there is so much more to climb, but he has to continue. He can hear The Universe waiting for him.
“You're vultures in trees
I know you're out there
You're lanterns on lakes
I know you're out there
You're soccer balls on knees
Through your skirt I see
Your legs gracefully”
He gets up and walks over to the wall of rock before him, preparing once again to climb, he can hear vultures cawing from above him, do they rest on the next cliff edge? Or are they flying continuously around the mountain, waiting for anyone unlucky enough to meet their demise here, either way, he can feel eyes on him constantly, if they’re not King Black Death’s they must be the vultures, eyeing him up, waiting for him to slip up and fall to his certain death, but he’s too high now, he can’t let them win.

“See me look unveiled when I walk out of the canyon, and
See me start to climb at the end of day
But who's there to see me walk out?”
Phil walks out of the clearing at the end of the forest, he stand on the beach looking out to the sea, he looks at Haida Gwaii, the island far off in the distance, it feels so close yet so far, he just hopes Geneviève can make it with him.

"Do you really think there's anybody out there?"

He stops for a moment, resting on the side of the mountain again, his hands sore from climbing for seemingly hours on end now, he wants to rest somewhere, anywhere. Suddenly another gust of wind takes him by surprise, this time it seems to speak to him. Is the mountain trying to communicate with him? He hears it from beside him, as if someone has just whispered into his ear, words of discouragement, trying to get him to stop his climb. He mustn’t, he can’t. The mountain is constantly sending trials his way, to test him, to break him, none of it is real. His house, the ship, his future self, it’s all here to mess with him, to discourage him, to confuse, bewilder, halter. He continues his climb, confidently.
“So what? No one sees me
What do I care now that the Black Night has seized me?
On a mountain's mane I climb to my claim
And I am aimless, alone, and unravelling
And above Barren Wastelands stare at me
They know my name”
The sun starts to set on the horizon, behind him so the shadow of the moon is cast behind the mountain, a place he can’t see. He continues upwards, not stopping for anything.

"What do you want?"

After what felt like forever, Phil finally makes it to the perch he was aiming for, he heaves himself over the top and lies on his back on the cold grey rock, it looks no different from all the other edges before, except this time he knew he wasn’t alone. He knew The Universe would be waiting for him, was this the halfway point? Was he nearly there? He could only hope. The Universe turns to speak to him, they only appear in the dead of night, as the moon hovers above them, staring straight down at Phil, The Universe begins to speak to Phil. Phil feels his body regain strength again, The Universe feeding him energy, the energy of The Moon, the one he used to sit below every night. He feels his wounds healing and those cuts closing up, he feels strong again, strong enough to finish this journey, but, why had The Universe helped him? What was so special about Phil, why was he the one who had to finish this climb.

"See Phil? There's no end in sight!"

Another voice speaks to him, this one not from The Universe, or the one who spoke to him as he climbed, no this one was different, it almost sounded like him. He looked up at the mountain, seeing no peak, no end to his climb, but there had to be, there had to be a top somewhere, this mountain couldn’t go on forever… or could it? This wasn’t a normal mountain, this entire place was abnormal, he knew that. What if there is no end, and Phil will continue climbing forever until he eventually falls from exhaustion, unless The Universe continually helps him, and it’s an endless loop. Phil got distressed and sat down for a moment, before The Universe began to speak to him again, this time in the voice of many others. The Universe has not one voice but many, as they are a being above all our comprehension, and will only appear in our times of need, they can take the appearance and sound of anything or anyone. Phil hears their singing, their voices echoing around him, and he gets up again. He walks to the rockface and begins once again, climbing. He begins to near the Big Black Cloud.
“I'm on a boulder over alpine tops I'm peeking
I watched you across the water in the evening”
Phil rests against the wall, feeling comfortable where he stands, being able to position himself in a relatively comfortable position, to be able to sit and look around, take in the view of his surroundings. He’s getting closer and closer to The Big Black Cloud; he can hear the choir singing from above. The Universe’s choir now gone, replaced with a more ominous song. He looks back down to the now tiny forest, barely being able to make out whether those are trees or the grass below their feet. He looks up at the sky, not obscured by cloud, he sees The Moon looking back at him, one who has helped him in times of need by being there, one who has been a friend when no one else could ever be. One who is now his only accompaniment.

"I watched you from above"

He feels another chill down his spine, he looks up again to see those voices speaking to him, he watches as the words travel down and enter his body, his soul. He let’s them in as he has no choice, letting their words fill him up, neither words of encouragement or discouragement, only what King Black Death wishes him to know, wishes him to know before their eventual meeting, one that Phil was dreading.
“The something that I held onto is leaving
The shape to what I saw has slowly grown”
He continues upwards, letting these words fill him, letting them fuel him to continue on, it was getting harder but every time he looked down at the now invisible ground, it fuelled him with further motivation, a further drive to face King Black Death, to face his fear, and hopefully be able to escape with his life.

If only he knew how impossible that would be. No one leaves Mount Eerie with their souls, Mount Eerie feeds off of the lost and hopeless, the ones who have lost everything, and are then left stranded at the shores of its mighty island. They awake confused and alone, facing that grand mountain, if the forest doesn’t kill them, the mountain will. It’ll make sure of it.

The carollers begin to sing their song
“You're higher on your hill
So your Big Black Cloud will come
So your Big Black Cloud will come
And press you to the ground
The air will leave your chest
You'll fade from where you're found”
They sing to Phil from above. The mountain lets their voices free and into the air, letting them fill the skies and fill the oceans. Phil can feel them all around him, singing their warnings in an almost mocking tone, they know what’s going to happen, so does the mountain, so does Phil.
“When you find you're standing still
And your fingers all go numb
Get higher on your hill
So your Big Black Cloud will come
So your Big Black Cloud will come
And press you to the ground
The air will leave your chest
You'll fade from where you're found”
Phil continues to climb, feeling his hands cut again at the fate of the jagged rocks, he feels colder now as he enters the nimbus above him, he takes one last look below before he submerges himself completely, now inside The Big Black Cloud, in King Black Death’s domain. The singers continue to sing from their precipice, the cages where the mountain has kept them, letting them speak only when someone is nearing their end, the final song any will hear, before their eventual demise. The song of Mount Eerie is sung for them.
“When you're finally standing still
And your fingers all go numb
Get higher on your hill
So your Big Black Cloud will come
So your Big Black Cloud will come”

He reaches an edge, he climbs up and rests once again, a rest that will be shortly lived.

“Rah! Do you see what happens?
Do you see what happens?!
When the Big Black Death
Breathes on you with his breath”
Phil is knocked backwards, nearly falling off the side, he clings on to anything he can, scrambling to get back up again, before him he sees him, King Black Death. He sits on his cloud, not the same cloud as before but a smaller one, a throne almost. He sits menacingly before him, hovering above the ground but close enough to drown Phil in his shadow. He feels his cold, dark breath blow against his skin, feeling it freeze up, feeling his blood flow freeze, he feels weak.
“I'm wild and woolly
A bloating bully
I'll strike you down and then
I'll strike you down again”
Phil is blown off the side of the mountain, King Dark Death’s mighty breath blows him skywards, as he is carried by the words he sings he floats as King Dark Death follows on his nimbus steed, now morphed into the shape of a horse. Phil is continually flung around by King Black Death’s breath, carried up into the air and dropped, only to be caught again by it.
“Do you see what happens? (What?)
Do you see what happens? (What?!)
When I peel away your bark
And stain your blue sky dark”
The words of the choir fill him again, fighting against King Dark Death’s breath, he feels himself being pulled and pushed about by these opposing forces, but the choir is too weak. The mountain still has a hold on their souls, they can’t do anything but yell out in hopes that it might delay the inevitable. They’ve seen it so many times before, they know the fatal outcome.
“Your breath I take to live
Your Death I ache to give
So take me in and crumble
Be smothered in my rumble!
My flash of thunder booms
Your lack of wonder looms”
Finally Phil is lifted high into the sky, high enough to finally see the tip of Mount Eerie, his goal post, so close, yet so far. He feels King Dark Death’s cold breath against him, holding him in place, giving him a good final view of where he could’ve got to before he is dropped.

“I press you to the ground
You'll fade from where you're found”

Phil plummets to the earth, falling for what seems like forever, through clouds, through words and voices, through memories and nightmares. He falls through his entire life, seeing it all before him, all it had led up to, all he had done before arriving at the mountain, all he had done during the stay at the mountain, all the trials, all the tribulations, only to be stopped so easily by King Black Death, a fate he should’ve seen coming, but he held out hope that, maybe he would’ve been ok, but no one survives Mount Eerie, not even the strongest willed. It will break you down and crush you under its might.
“The way they share (The flesh we tear)
They feast (So, innocent of memory, we feast)
They invite each bite (We invite each bite)
Into flight (Into our flight)”
Phil lands on the cold hard ground, landing in a flowerbed, softening his fall none. The air leaves his chest, as does everything else, he feels his soul leave his body, float on upwards as his vision blurs he sees figures around him, as they begin to bite into his flesh, tearing it apart. He feels no pain from it though, all his senses have left him, all that is left now is emptiness, he feels nothing, he has accepted his fate to the mountain, he knows he can’t win, all he is, is fodder for the vultures, as is everyone else who attempts this impossible climb, nothing but burnt bone.

“I am the twilight upon the porch
A leaf falls into your lap
I am the candle falling
Your hands gripping the tablecloth
Your eyes only three years old”
A past memory floods his mind, a memory of when he was younger, a memory that has always stuck with him. He sees himself back at home, with his parents as he tugs the tablecloth with his curious fingers, small and innocent he pulls intently, not knowing the fate that will fall on him. Everything freezes as the candle begins to tip, the wax dripping and the flame smiling down at him. He hears that flame talk, he hears it mock him. Phil can only lie there and watch that flame engulf his younger self. Watch his fragile body burn up like paper, gone in a flash of light, all he can do is lie there… uselessly eaten by the vultures who mock him.
“The way they share
The memory you did wear
And now your song
Is inside them”

“Now that I have disappeared I have my sight
Beautiful Black, you are unveiled
Now you're mine
So let my voice bellow about you Silent Night
Let my voice echo out from caves and mines”
Phil’s soul floats upwards, leaving his physical form to be eaten by the birds, he floats up through the trees and sees the leaves below him swaying in the wind, he looks out to sea and sees an island, an island that was not there before. He sees Phil standing there at the shore, staring out to the island, holding nothing but a jar, he sees the ship, the ship that tried to crush him before, still sat there, rusting slowly, its tip pressed against the mountain, kissing it gently.
“Oh, you have a bright disguise: Mountains and Lights”
He floats higher, above the ship and he looks on top of it, seeing skeletons strewed across its deck, the funnels that exhaled smoke now silent and empty, a black void below. The deck had a couple other notable objects, such as pictures of people, presumably ones who lost their lives to the mountain, each picture attached to a designated skeleton, and there was also a key, a key left on the boat. There was no indication as to what the key was for, nor if it was for anything, Phil couldn’t stop to check, as he was still ascending, higher and higher.
“But, Universe, I see your face in blackest night
And you see mine”
He passes through where he originally met The Universe, seeing the spot they once were in empty and only seeing the ominous shadow of The Big Black Cloud loom over where they once stood. He continues to rise, rising now through the Big Black Cloud, a hole opening before him as he floats through. King Black Death sitting on his throne, watching Phil float upwards, unmoving, only staring, his job done. King Black Death makes a single movement with his finger, he points it skywards, looking up before looking back at Phil. Phil looks upwards and sees where he is going. He sees the top of the mountain, closer than ever before, closer than it ever was, as if it had shifted, moved. The mountain is alive of course.
“Oh, Universe, I see your face looks just like mine!”
Phil floats higher, now leaving King Black Death only to watch his ghostly form above him, he rises up, up, up. He reaches the top, the top of Mount Eerie, he stops for a moment, The Universe letting him take a look at what one will never see. The top of Mount Eerie does not exist, as there is no end. Mount Eerie will only end when you accept your fate, accept your place in the world, and once you have accepted that, and once you have become comfortable with your world, and your life, will the top of Mount Eerie be revealed, and you will be able to seamlessly make your way to the top. What was once an impossible task has now become easy. He floats higher than the top though, he continues to go higher, and higher. Higher than the mountain, higher than the peak, higher than anything could ever be.

“We are open wide!”

Phil floats now, no longer going upwards, hovering in the empty space he resides in. He hovers above everything, above the earth, above the mount, above all. He is one with The Universe now, he is one to give help to others when they need it, to bestow upon them what The Universe did him, for he is The Universe now. The Universe is the one thing more powerful than Mount Eerie, while at first it feels impossible for anything to overpower such an omnipotent force, anyone can, with ease. All they must do is accept themselves, and all will be revealed. Acceptance is the final stage of grief, and The Universe is the final stage of Mount Eerie.


Would it surprise you to hear that, this is not in fact Phil’s Mount Eerie? While it may seem like it, it’s not. This Mount Eerie is a trial for all. When you’re at your lowest, when you’re at your weakest, most desolate point, Mount Eerie will reveal itself to you, and when that happens, you have one last chance to save your soul. You will either succeed, and float on, or die trying to reach that impossible goalpost.

That is the end of Mount Eerie, the album at least, but when one journey ends, another opens. While this is the end of this chapter, there is still more to it than this. There’s more to unwrap and uncover, more to digest and more to dig through, and I’ll be here to guide you through it all, as I have up to this point.

“We know there are
There are stars behind those stars
There are bands after this band
There are shows after this show
There are streets beyond those streets
There are towns beyond this town
There are hills beyond those hills
There are seas beyond those seas
There are stars behind those stars
There are skins beneath these shirts
There are hearts beneath those skins
There are hearts beneath those hearts
There are stars beyond those stars
There are nights darker than this night
There are nights after tonight”

There will always be another day after this one, Phil laments on Universe Conclusion, a song not featured on Mount Eerie but in the live compilation that came at the tail end of The Microphones lifetime. This is a song that details Phil’s life above the mountain, part of the universe, one with the stars. He has accepted all he can, and is now at peace. He looks back over his life, his failures, his accomplishments but he also speaks to those who helped him during his time of need, specifically that Black Cloud, a cloud that has dissipated now, a cloud that has become one with the night sky.
“Black night, I'm at your side
Black night, I've become your bride
Oh, black night, take me inside
For you have spread me wide
What use, wide eyes, in black night?
In black night's longer sight
Take me inside
Take me and make me wide, black night”
A wedding in the stars, with the night and day occurs each daybreak. The Sun and The Moon meet and they become lovers once again, a spectacle that we all see each day, but Phil has learnt to appreciate with each passing morn. He them wed below above him. He is their child, he is the one who will get taken in each night, into the black blanket The Moon bestows upon all, comfortably asleep and comfortably awakening each morning to his mother The Sun birthing a new day, each one more spectacular than the last. Phil has learnt to truly treasure each day and each night; he is one with the day and night as he is with The Universe.
“Black night, I have become your eyes
In noon's bright light, I am your spy
So where'd my life go?
Where'd I live my life?
How'd all my songs go so fast?”
Phil asks The Moon, what happened. While he recollects the events that happened to him below the sky, he wants to know why, and how. How did this all happen, and why him, why choose someone as seemingly insignificant as him. The Moon responds in only a gesture, looking back down at the ground, now closer than before, Phil sees himself once again, this time in a home, a home with a daughter, a home missing a mother.

“Waking up in the known world
There's something that's left over
I rub my eyes into the known world”

Phil sits on a log, writing down his thoughts onto a piece of paper in front of him, writing poems, lyrics, other random thoughts. As he sits alone in the forest, he hears the birds sing around him, chirping to each other and fluttering about. He stands up and walks deeper into the woods, letting the sounds of nature fill him with tranquillity. All his woes leave him at once, he feels calm and collected for the first time in a long time.
“The house is dark all day, my eyes are half open
And the light that does get in is unconvincing
Half sleeping through the day in the middle of winter
Did I dream this in the dusk, or am I alive right now in the known world?”
He reminisces of lost times, times with past lovers, times where he was at his lowest, times where he didn’t think he could carry on, but he did, he made it through those dark times, and made it back into the light of the sun, each passing day, another victory.

“Seeing the known world in a cloud
Known world in twilight
Known world as a rumor
Known world as an old love”

The Black Cloud hovers over once again, a feeling Phil is well acquainted with. He feels his woes returning to him as he walks to the lakeside, he stares deep into the water, he sees himself staring back at him, a face he knows too well, a face that once smiled back at him, now one with a permanent grimace. He looks deeper into the water, looking past the fish, the rocks and the waterbed itself, he looks into himself, seeing his past, his pains and his soul all staring back at him. They yearn as much as he does, he wants to reach out and grasp them tightly, but he can’t, they don’t exist on this plane, he is the only one who is real here, and he has to keep that composure until the end.
“Now I think I'm the only one awake
All these human bodies sleeping while driving
And I can just barely keep myself up
This comfortable life knows”
He walks out of the forest and into a street, a street that sits next to a beach, a beach that Phil visits regularly, to sit and stare out at the ocean, stare out at the island that resides nearby; Haida Gwaii. Only a couple cars drive past, their drivers emotionless and concentrated, focused on only the road ahead and nothing else, they don’t acknowledge Phil standing on the side of the road, paper and pen in pocket, jar in hand. He waits for the road to clear before eventually crossing over to the other side. He reaches the beach and sits down for a short while. His mind remains empty now, all thoughts fled after he left the lake, as if that reflection had stolen all from him. He looks up at the sky and sees the stars, glistening down at him.
“Our house lights up the whole neighborhood
We have the lights on, working
All day long and into the night
Not knowing it's raining”
A house, located on the beach is where he heads next, making his way across the sand he enters the wooden home, a building he did not recall being there previously, but he doesn’t remember much of anything right now. He walks into the hall and turns on a light, the lights flicker on and a dull hum can be heard, it’s surprising they still work. He walks into one of the rooms darting off from the main hall. There is a large window in the one he enters, a window looking off into the night sky, a window with a perfect look at The Moon.
"Hello Moon, out the window
You are nothing to me
But some blue light in my house."
He stares up at The Moon, as it stares back at him. He stands there, that same jar clasped in his hands, pen and paper shoved untidily into his pockets. That feeling of content, that feeling of tranquillity and peacefulness has all but left him now, how calm he felt in those woods, among those birds and among those bees, has now gone, all but sucked out of him by the lake. The Moon whispers to him a poem.


"Hello, little man in the house
Glancing out the window and going to bed
This is the mountain above your roof
This is the space above your head
I know you're comfortable in there
Being content with what you have
Saying 'No more hunting. This is it'
And sitting still for good
But you must come reconcile with me
I am the space above your head
The dark, unfolding mystery
Come out, come out and see
What you don't know."

This wasn’t the first time The Moon had spoken to Phil, he recalled previous events in which he had felt The Moon’s presence, and how it had helped him in the past. He trusted The Moon’s judgement, as it had always helped him in the past, why not now as well?
Phil walks out of the room once The Moon is done with its piece, he opens up the front door once again and leaves, closing it behind him with a resounding click, silence fills the air, the only sound being the wind softly brushing the sand below his feet, edging him ever closer to the shoreline, to the sand and to the water. Phil walks to the edge of the beach, staring out to sea once again, he holds his jar firmly in hand, he stares out to Haida Gwaii, the island he had hoped to move with his family, but it didn’t feel right, not without Geneviève.

The ground starts to shake beneath his feet, he feels the wind pick up and blow the sand across his feet, the waves begin to crash harder against the shoreline and The Moon hides behind the stars. He hears the choir singing from above, a choir he had only heard once before, he turns around at the direction that these noises are coming from, the singing, the wind, the breaths. He sees up in the clouds, beyond the beach, beyond the street, beyond the forests, a mountain. Phil looks up at the top, and he sees no end, the top obscured by clouds, a Big Black Cloud. He stands alone, jar in hand, gripping it tightly before sensing a presence, one he recognised, one he recognised as himself.

“Mount Eerie revealed in the breaking of clouds
And then gone again”

Phil saw himself down there, holding nothing but a jar, staring out to sea as he floated up higher, above the trees, above the mountain, above all things physical as Mount Eerie reveals itself for Phil once again below, he turns and stops. Mount Eerie is our insurmountable challenge, a challenge we cannot even fathom currently; a loved one dying, a suicide, a major loss. That feeling of being the deepest you can be in the deepest pit of depression. A feeling you will only ever feel once in your entire life, a bullet wound through the soul. Only then will Mount Eerie will be revealed to you. While Phil had created the concept of Mount Eerie for us, he had not yet experienced his own Mount Eerie… with jar in hand, he makes his way up the Mount.
4 Comments
1d ago
i love you
1d ago
Amazing review. You continue to be genuinely one of the best writers on this site and this review may go down as your best for sure. Keep doing what you are doing, and please: take all of my children.
1d ago
The key is significant.
It signifies the feeling of being trapped, you only see it, and how close it was after you accept it all. Similar to the rest of the metaphor of acceptance makes everything so much easier, that key is another layer to the metaphor, just a lot more subtle. The key is hidden in plain sight, and was so close to Phil the entire time, but he could never reach it. He only could when he didn't need it anymore.
23h ago
ily <3
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