Pre-Human Ideas - P.W. ELVERUM AND SUN
FILTER Grade: 75%
By Jon Falcone on November 21, 2013
Phil Elverum has always been someone who looks to disrupt the norm with his music. Not in a particularly aggressive way, but just to do things—his things—differently. Pre-Human Ideas is another idea of his that aims to subvert, even in a small way. For this album, by re-lacing new melodies and words over re-recorded songs previously released on last year’s double releases Clear Moon and Ocean Roar (and also by Auto-Tuning his vocals), there’s an immediate discomfort as the familiar and unusual clash. So Pre-Human Ideas could be an indie-folk record from 2020, robotic voices layered as lullabies over strange songs. Or, it could be an electronic album mixed with dirge/drone-rock, as “Yawning Sky” manages to plod with immense weight while also seeming to float easily as it resonates. “Ocean Roar” is beautiful, Elverum’s voice dominating the mix, wavering and stumbling as it builds, the mad harmonies sounding horrible and yet brilliant. The words do become slightly monotone as the album rolls out, the pace doesn’t vary, and the vocals remain, unsurprisingly, restricted. This is another great move by a revered musician, but the delivery isn’t always as exciting as the idea.