In our newest series, Albums That Soundtrack Our Lives, we hear from a selection of students reflecting individually on albums that shaped their life in one way or another. To start us off we hear from Fin Logie, whose selection, The Glow, Pt. 2, is loaded with the image of his rural home and camping trips under the stars in the Highlands, which is soaked in comforting nostalgia in a chaotic current climate.
Underneath the chaos of the world at present, music serves as a refuge for so many of us. When my mind spirals into the folds of itself and I find anxious thoughts overtaking me, I know that I can grab a pair of headphones and focus my feelings on the impassioned, vulnerable poetry of Phil Elverum. In 2001, Elverum released The Glow, Pt. 2 with his project The Microphones, and it has since become a revered, modern classic of lo-fi. Multi-layered acoustic guitars form ambient soundscapes while fluid rhythms find their feet with each strum. It’s an album based on raw emotion, filled with longing and nostalgia. The record is scattered with cathartic moments of abrasive screams and fuzzy guitars which in turn give way to restrained, gentle melodies. It’s the soundtrack to my late-night winter bus journeys home, with its organic analogue sound offering warmth on cold, lonely evenings.
“Oh, what a loss / Oh, what a loss
I miss my closest friend / And now I cling to rocks and wind
It’s a precious thing we lost.”
I grew up in a small village in rural Scotland, surrounded by hills and forests and miles from the nearest town; the evocative lyricism of The Microphones’ music sends me straight back there. Vivid descriptions of Elverum’s native Cascadia morph into my home as I drift into a daydream listening to his eclectic lo-fi symphonies. I could be finishing a long shift in a busy bar, my head aching with all of my mistakes as I walk back to my flat, but as soon as I hit play on I Want Wind to Blow, I feel transported to a beautiful place with cool wet air and abundant evergreen trees.
“And we went all the way up to the small town where I’m from
With foggy air and the wind and the mountain tops.”
I’ve always felt a deeper connection to artists who favour the plain and unadorned: the art feels truer when it presents itself without ostentation. Phil Elverum’s style of songwriting is unpretentious and honest, and has a real, poignant specificity to him; he bares his soul, opening a window on his individual experience in a pure stream-of-consciousness style;
“I finally felt like I was breathing free
And under swaying trees, we fell asleep and had the same dream
The stars were bright, we dream the same every night.”
And yet he is able to share his feelings with such pathos that his words feel universal. Though written as a breakup album, the songs take on new meaning for every listener. In writing this, it feels almost selfish to proclaim my own attached meanings to the songs when their reach is so expansive, but that’s the beauty of this album. For me, this album is drizzly camping trips in the highlands; it’s dark drives home on quiet winding roads; it’s sitting by a fire and looking up at the stars. The Glow, Pt. 2 is a truly intimate work with real, affecting lyricism; a hymnal for lost love and isolation. Phil Elverum’s eternal songs of despair and hope will always offer a sanctuary for me in an oftentimes overwhelming world.
“The thunderclouds broke up / and the rain dried up, the lightning let up / the clacking shutters just shut up.”