Don't Wake Me Up
By: Eric G.
Like early Sebadoh, Microphones makes a raucous noise on a deliberately lo-fi level with lots of fuzzed out low end mixed with experimental yet dreamy pop. Microphones is the nom de plume for Olympia-based bedroom engineer, Phil Elvrum. Don’t Wake Me Up is an album filled with so many noises it can’t be digested in one listen. Elvrum incorporates tape-loop-snippets, keyboards, washed out guitars, radio frequencies, and lots of distortion in his stirring pop collage. The music seems to reference much of what was going on in New Zealand in the early nineties with bands like Bailter Space and Alistair Galbraith, but it also shares similarities to some American indie rock, particularly the aforementioned Sebadoh as well as Eric’s Trip.
Don’t Wake Me Up plays with lethargic, melodramatic pop using unorthodox instrumentation like organs, tympanis, and xylophones. The vocals float above the dirty, bottom-heavy production with a choir boy sadness and a droning lilt. Elvrum plays most of the instruments himself with help from a few friends like Calvin Johnson. The songs build unpredictably in strange tangents. Elvrum’s music exists in a constant state of twilight. Even when the percussion kicks in the melodies of the songs remain slow and droning. Elvrum also frequently bends the pitches in his harmonies, creating an eerie effect. This album is an acquired taste but it’s one that you appreciate the more you come back to it.