Phil Elverum has reactivated The Microphones for the project’s first album in 17 years, Microphones in 2020. The effort — comprising a single, 40-minute-long song — is due out August 7th via the musician’s own P.W. Elverum & Sun.
The Microphones’ last release was 2003’s Mount Eerie, a name which Elverum began performing under not long after. In a press release, Elverum said that regardless of the name, his work has always been about “exploring autobiographically in sound and words with occasional loose participation from friends.”
Last year, he delivered a rare performance as The Microphones for “no big reason.” However, the attention and interest garnered by that show at the small “What the Heck?” event in Anacortes, Washington inspired him to “step back into an old mode.” Rather than a nostalgic “self commemoration,” however, Microphones in 2020 finds Elverum trying “to get at the heart of what defined that time in my life, my late teens and early twenties” while making something “perennial and enduring.”
“We all crash through life prodded and diverted by our memories. There is a way through to disentanglement,” Elverum explained. “Burn your old notebooks and jump through the smoke. Use the ashes to make a new thing.”
Ahead of its August 7th release, Microphones in 2020 will debut as an album-length short film (“a lyric video slideshow of sorts”) on August 6th at 1:00 p.m. EST. Watch a teaser trailer below, and set a reminder for the YouTube premiere here.
Pre-order the three-side 2X-LP vinyl edition of the album at P.W. Elverum & Sun. What appears to be the lyrics to “Microphones in 2020” were included in a press release, and you can read those beneath the teaser ahead.
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.
Instead of shoring up the tilting walls of whoever I think I am, I push at the seams and try to tip it all over. I do not want to be well known by my name or an image or an idea that might trail me around. I do want to know well, and to share insights, about the workings of time and weather growing and eroding this one life.