flock music can have casios or mandolin
by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


Mt. Eerie - "The Dead of Night".

On Your Blues, Destroyer built his songs on a platform of straw and straws, strips of satin - casio synths, drum machine, fake strings and electric piano. This fakeness? he seemed to be saying, It was always this fake - you just didn't hear it before. As he told his skewed stories, sang happily and sadly and obliquely, as he swam in those sleek waters, this is what I heard: Art's always been fake. It's made by people. Beauty's fake too. But that's okay (I think) -- art's still art. Beauty's still beauty. And booty's still booty.

With Eleven Old Songs, which is available now at Mt Eerie shows, Phil Elvrum revisits eleven of his old songs, and he does so with casio synths, drum machine, straw and straws. And in Elvrum's hands, these materials say something different than they did with Dan Bejar: Beauty's not fake -- "fake" is beautiful.

Bejar might say that he means that too, only sideways. But I think Phil would say that's too complicated.

I'm not sure who's right.

As a sample from the record, "The Dead of Night" is a bit of a cheat - for two reasons. First, the track was only previously released on the limited Live in Copenhagen triple-LP. Second, there isn't much of that casio.

I love this song, though, because I love the trick of it. Phil sings with his usual wistful seriousness, words like pebbles skipped onto a lake, and it's anchored by this repeated sample of a singing crowd. The sample goes round and round, the rhythm not quite right, like a wheel with bad balance. It begins to come apart - and you begin to get sick of it. And then something changes - at two and a half minutes, Elverum dies. (Spoiler: he doesn't.) And the sample changes, it twists and stretches and fades in and out, human voices that cease and restart, and if you hear it right it stops you in your tracks, the wheel is suddenly perfectly weighted, but it's not taking you anywhere. You hang... -- and yes there is that casio, sounding like the most vivacious and ebbulient thing, living itself, the skipping realworld plantlife heartbeat.

On his recordings, Elvrum's greatest strength is his ear for song-texture. It's why the unflashy No Flashlight (2005) kinda sucks. But it's why a song like this can leave you gaping, at least a little bit.

The Harvey Girls - "Mountain".

The terrific mp3blog Spoilt Victorian Child has launched a record label. Mike Seed's Songs For The Wintering Show Troupe is quivering and wintry - like the end of winter, though: the onset of spring, the moments after you turn off that M. Ward CD, when there's heat in your fingers. There are samples here (I highly recommend "William In A Trance").

The Harvey Girls are another beast entirely. They're a duo who play avant pop, indie folk, eclectic and soft-hearted weirdness.

And clearly they can also play a kind of bluegrass.

"Mountain" is a song where the engineer's done half the work for you. Listen to that mandolin. Listen! My gosh - listen to it! It's the sound of everything I love in my life. Listen! It's the cat with the fiddle, the silver spoon, the man in the moon. Hiram Lucke is singing something, but I need to listen so hard to hear it - the mandolins are dazzling, brilliant, the only things I want to concentrate on. Listen to them!

All right, all right. I'll pay attention to the lyrics... "Fold your hands to listen now." Okay! Will do! Mandolins!

(Final note: Lucke's lyrics are of course very good, but "Mountain" sure don't need rely on 'em.)

[All SVC Releases come as high-quality mp3s with full artwork. And they are extraordinarily good value -- The Harvey Girls' Wild Farewell costs £4 (or $10-$15 on CD), while Mike Seed's album is a mere £3.50. Twittering electronica is also available from The Palace Lido, for £3.50. -- so do BUY.]

Posted by Sean at October 6, 2005 3:00 AM

thanks for the harvey girl post! we love them here in lawrence.

Posted by chris at October 6, 2005 11:37 PM

"Mountain" brought tears to my eyes. Its new familiarity warmed my soul with a peaceful resignation. The power of these sounds could bring solace to the fearful and empty, comfort in the ominous rain.

Thank you for this mountain...

Posted by elfie at October 7, 2005 11:23 AM

The Mt. Eerie songis one of the most exciting things I've heard from Phil as of late. It's an interesting pop take on Steve Reich's aesthetic, and incredibly moving. Thanks!

Posted by Cameron at October 7, 2005 3:33 PM


that "harvey girls" tune really hit the spot tonight

Posted by joe at October 8, 2005 3:11 AM

"It's why the unflashy No Flashlight (2005) kinda sucks."


Posted by k at October 11, 2005 1:00 AM

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This is a daily sampler of really good songs. All tracks are posted out of love. Please go out and buy the records.

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about the authors
Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

Emma Healey writes poems and essays in Toronto. She joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. This is her website and email her here.

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Dan Beirne wrote regularly for Said the Gramophone from August 2004 to December 2014. He is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.

Jordan Himelfarb wrote for Said the Gramophone from November 2004 to March 2012. He lives in Toronto. He is an opinion editor at the Toronto Star. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.
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