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Le Guess Who? Preview #2: Phil Elverum
Christian Eede , June 30th, 2021 16:43

Ahead of the return of Utrecht's Le Guess Who? festival, as well as the coinciding Mega Record & CD Fair, this November, we continue to talk to some of those on the lineup about some of their favourite records

Utrecht's Le Guess Who? is fully back this November, after taking a year out from in-person events in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and filling the void instead with a virtual edition of the festival last November.

Organisers have already confirmed a lineup that includes the likes of William Basinski, faUSt, Pa Salieu, Ana Roxanne, Vladislav Delay and a Hakuna Kulala label showcase, among many others. The festival will also this year welcome Lucrecia Dalt, Matana Roberts, Midori Takada, John Dwyer and Phil Elverum as guest curators, each picking out some acts to play the event.

Over the weeks and months preceding the festival, we are reaching out to some of those scheduled to play this year to get a brief insight into some of their favourite music, and particularly which records they might be looking out for if they get a chance to peruse through the stalls and shelves at Utrecht's historic Mega Record & CD Fair, which this year coincides with Le Guess Who?

The Mega Record & CD Fair is the biggest of its kind in Europe and hosts exhibitions, collections, signings and live shows, alongside lots and lots of record stalls. You can find more information about the fair here, and read through the first of these preview features – featuring Black Country, New Road saxophonist Lewis Evans – from earlier in June, here.

This week, we shift our focus to one of this year's guest curators at Le Guess Who?: Phil Elverum, of projects such as Mount Eerie and The Microphones. Below, he touches on his previous experience of visiting the Mega Record & CD Fair, as well as his fascination with Gagaku music.

Le Guess Who? will take place from November 11 to 14, 2021. Find more information here.

Which three records would you be on the hunt for at the Mega Record & CD Fair?

Phil Elverum: I've been to this record fair before, sometime around 2011 or so. I got a bootleg copy of the My Bloody Valentine EP You Made Me Realise, but it sounds bad; poorly mastered, gritty weird stuff in the grooves. I think I also found a copy of Lovers Rock by Sade on vinyl, which felt rare at that time. But, the question is about what my future desires will be... Belong seven-inch by Eric's Trip; any of the seven-inches in the Teeme Muusikat series (especially Veljo Tormis' release); and Paris seven-inch by Northern Picture Library.

When / how did you get to know these records, and why are they special to you?

PE: I've loved Eric's Trip for decades and this first seven-inch is the one missing from my collection. They are my favourite band and still sound amazing to me; a beautiful balance of raw, insane, haunted fuzz/feedback, and also beauty and intimacy.

[On the Teeme Muusikat series] I don't understand any Estonian or really what the story is behind these educational singles, but the music is haunting and beautiful, and the artwork is too. I've only heard them on YouTube.

[On Northern Picture Library] I went into an early "twee"-ish (or whatever) Sarah Records exploration recently and discovered this cool song by a band I'd never heard of. I also finally got pretty into Heavenly, but I already have those records.

What album have you listened to the most over the last year?

PE: I keep coming back to my two or three records of Gagaku, the Imperial Court Music of Japan. It's a very nice feeling in the house; the spacious shrill and florid flutes, the woodblocks, the blossoming emptiness.

An unexpected interest you mentioned when discussing your curation at LGW? is black metal. What is your favourite black metal album?

PE: I don't have a favourite one and I am hesitant to even say any names because in this genre, it is easy to accidentally enjoy music made by someone with very gnarly and disagreeable political beliefs, and I don't devote enough of my (scarce) screen time to researching these musicians' internet comments. Sorry for the non-answer. Probably most or all of the stuff I like is totally fine and cool, but I just don't know. I've been really loving A Diabolic Thirst by Spectral Wound recently though.