Phil Elverum’s light, out-of-tune singing on the opening track of The Microphones’ 2000 cult classic It Was Hot, We Stayed in the Water is initially distracting, but then it becomes obvious that it’s an artistic choice made in the name of playing with sound. The album gets progressively more experimental as it moves along, with the induction of police sirens, a recorder, and even the ambient noise of whirring wind. All of these unconventional sounds seem to come from left and right — literally, the panning techniques are a screwy delight. The tracks themselves are loosely woven together, as exemplified by the 11-minute epic, “The Glow,” which enacts stream-of-consciousness meanderings in the forms of cultish harmonizing, the white noise of an organ note held for too long, and the muffled dissipation of the song’s protracted finish. Thirteen years later, it’s uncanny that It Was Hot still sounds so fresh.
It Was Hot, We Stayed in the Water (Re-issue)