“Death is real,” croons Phil Elverum of Mount Eerie on his new single “Real Death.” The track is off of his newly announced album A Crow Looked At Me, which will be looking at a March 24th release via Elverum’s own P.W. Elverum & Sun label. “Real Death” is only a hint at the utter pain that follows the loss of a loved one; even Elverum sings “it’s not for singing about, it’s not for making into art.”
One can only imagine what Elverum must be feeling in the wake of his loss. In July of 2016, Elverum’s wife and artist Geneviève Castrée Elverum passed away after a surprising battle with advanced pancreatic cancer. The album was apparently recorded that fall, in the room she had died and primarily with her instruments. Elverum’s music, under both the Microphones and Mount Eerie, has until now been more abstract than not, but A Crow Looked At Me seems like it will be a particularly personal album because of the particularly personal subject.
In “Real Death,” Elverum seems to barely make it through the words, shivering over a similarly shaking instrumentation. Elverum’s voice stands as a single pillar holding up the fragile, stripped back guitar, similar to Lost Wisdom era Mount Eerie.
Elverum goes into why he has finally opened up in his music after years of privacy in a statement, where he writes “I make these songs and put them out into the world just to multiply my voice saying that I love her. I want it known.”
Read the full statement along with the album cover and tracklist below.
“Why share this much? Why open up like this? Why tell you, stranger, about these personal moments, the devastation and the hanging love? Our little family bubble was so sacred for so long. We carefully held it behind a curtain of privacy when we’d go out and do our art and music selves, too special to share, especially in our hyper-shared imbalanced times. Then we had a baby and this barrier felt even more important. (I still don’t want to tell you our daughter’s name.) In May 2015 they told us Geneviève had a surprise bad cancer, advanced pancreatic, and the ground opened up. ‘What matters now?’ we thought. Then on July 9th 2016 she died at home and I belonged to nobody anymore. My internal moments felt like public property. The idea that I could have a self or personal preferences or songs eroded down into an absurd old idea leftover from a more self-indulgent time before I was a hospital-driver, a caregiver, a child-raiser, a griever. I am open now, and these songs poured out quickly in the fall, watching the days grey over and watching the neighbors across the alley tear down and rebuild their house. I make these songs and put them out into the world just to multiply my voice saying that I love her. I want it known.
DEATH IS REAL could be the name of this album. These cold mechanics of sickness and loss are real and inescapable, and can bring an alienating, detached sharpness. But it is not the thing I want to remember. A crow did look at me. There is an echo of Geneviève that still rings, a reminder of the love and infinity beneath all of this obliteration. That’s why.”
A Crow Looked At Me Tracklist
01. Real Death
04. Forest Fire
06. My Chasm
07. When I Take Out the Garbage At Night
08. Emptiness pt. 2
10. Soria Moria