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Phil Elverum's first new Microphones album in 17 years is one 44-minute song

Illustration for article titled Phil Elverum's first new Microphones album in 17 years is one 44-minute song
Photo: Harmony Gerber (Getty Images)

Last summer, Phil Elverum revived his bygone Microphones moniker for a one-off show in his hometown of Anacortes, Washington, which we imagine was something of an escape following the deep mourning that’s colored the last few LPs he dropped as Mount Eerie. Now, enlivened by that performance, he’s decided to “step back into an old mode” with a new album, Microphones in 2020, the project’s first LP since 2003's Mount Eerie.


The result is a single 44-minute song that finds Elverum unpacking the years he spent recording under the name. As he puts it in a press release, the music tries to “get at the heart of what defined that time in my life, my late teens and early twenties.”

“[B]ut even more importantly,” he continues, “I tried to break the spell of nostalgia and make something perennial and enduring. All past selves existing at once in this inferno present moment. The song doesn’t seem to end. That’s the point.”

Accompanying the announcement is a teaser featuring an excerpt from the album’s “one really long song,” which Elverum will premiere with a “lyric video slideshow of sorts” on the P.W. Elverum & Sun YouTube page the day before its proper release.

Check it out below.

The album’s pre-order page on the P.W. Elverum & Sun site contains what the songwriter calls “a poem about it.”


Read it below:

The old smell of air
coming faintly through the spring
crack in the snow above a hibernating bear’s winter den,
the smell of long self-absorption,
burrowing into one’s own chest, re-breathing the exhales of one’s own breath,
the smell of squinting in the dark
ruminating in dreams
beneath layering years, the snow still falling.

In the dark smoldering
slowly burning through all the old clothes, sifting through the ash,
wiping old shedded fur from the eyes
nosing out into the light.

In that brief moment when the airs of the past and present meet, at the mouth of the open bed,
egoic solidity burns away in the spring wind, self becomes fuel,
there is only now
and the past is a dream burning off.
Fragments arranged along the trail, crumbs consumed, dust blown,
no route back.


Microphones In 2020 arrives on August 7.

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.