Friday, August 6, 2010

The Microphones: "It Was Hot, We Stayed in the Water" CD/LP (K Records, Sept. 2000)

(CD Version, spine 1, spine 2, front, back, booklet inside/outside, CD itself, play-side info, hidden under tray pic)

(LP inner labels, side A/B)

(1st Press LP, front, back, four views of the "pop-up" gatefold, poster, insert front/back)

(2nd Press LP, front, back, outside of gatefold, inside of garefold, spine)

It Was Hot, We Stayed in the Water CD/LP

-Recorded September 24, 1999-March 6, 2000 at Dub Narcotic in Olympia, WA
by Phil Elvrum, Khaela Maricich, Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn, Jenn Kliese, Anna Oxygen, Karl Blau, Jason Wall, and Calvin (Johnson)*

*This is the “Recorded by” list included in the CD release as well as the 2nd press of the vinyl (which have identical covers). On the first press of the LP (which has a completely different cover) Jeremy Bosworth is also listed in this section, right before Calvin Johnson

*The CD and 2nd press LP also attribute the cover design to Khaela Maricich. No attribute is made for the design of the first press LP

-Released September 26, 2000 on K Records (KLP116)*
-IFPI Number: L765

-Barcode info: 789856111626

-CDs apparently manufactured by some place called CD Forge (

-1st press vinyl came in a gatefold cover with a picture of the ocean at sunset. The gatefold opens up into a “pop-up” collage of a beach and the ocean, similar to the covers of the 2nd press LP and the CD version. The 1st press also came packaged with an 8”x52” black and white poster of one of Phil’s paintings (presumably of “water”) which also has the name of the LP and The Microphones on it. There is K Records info on it as well which makes it look very much like it must have been the main promotional poster for the album. This LP also came with a black and white photocopied insert (6”x13”, one page folded over) which, on one side, has the usual song titles and lyrics written by Phil that often accompanies his releases. The other side has a poor copy of what appears to be people at the beach. It says, on one end “Sold Only By: American and International” and, on the other end “Stereoscopic View Co.” The inner label on the LP is the usual “Phil” style, hand-written. Identical on both the 1st and 2nd press.

-2nd press vinyl also came in a gatefold sleeve. This one, however, had no “pop-up”. Instead, the inner sleeve is covered in black and white line drawings, presumably of the people that recorded the album with Phil. The outside cover is a collage of cut-up pictures, forming an ocean at sunset. The gatefold opens up to make one continuous picture, back to front. Inner label on the LP is identical to the 1st press. No inserts.

-CD version has a cover identical to the 2nd press LP. The only difference being that addition of another photo on the back cover of some people (maybe Phil and friends) in the water. As is common on Phil’s releases there is a picture printed on the inside of the back cover which is hidden beneath the CD tray. It is a close-up of some of the sheet music for a song which appears to feature the lyrics “it was hot, we stayed in the water”, though I am not sure what song has those lyrics. In the CD (and only in the CD), in the liner notes, it claims that sheet music for the album is available through K Records (Box 7154 Olympia, WA 98507 The CD itself has the usual design of Phil’s discs, all white with a black and white line drawing on it. In this case a pair of seashells made to look like headphones.

-The record plays at 33 1/3 rpms on both sides, both pressings. Inner grooves on both sides, both pressings are only marked with the usual label/numbering (KLP 116 A/B)

*No information at this time about numbers pressed of any format or what the exact release date refers to. Considering the drastic differences in the cover designs one would assume the first press of the vinyl was released by itself, a CD version only becoming available at the time of the 2nd vinyl press.

-All copies on black vinyl, as far as I know.

-A decent review here from our friends at Pitchfork:


This was in the handful of Microphones records/releases that I was fortunate enough to pick up at the time, a million years ago, when I was first learning about Phil. I have to admit, if I haven’t already in these pages, that I was initially not into his thing. My first encounter with Phil was when I lived in Seattle, working at another in a chain of many record store jobs. One day the “Tests” CD arrived, and I think it’s safe to assume this would have had to have been when it was actually first released (more on this when we get to that CD), and I guess I was just not in a place in my life where I was ready for it.

Flash forward to Boston, another record store job, and a friend recommending The Microphones to me. I perused releases. I was continually baffled by Phil’s obsession with percussion and noise. Long tracks of drums and sound, occasionally interspersed with tiny perfect acoustic songs or, what sounded like, elementary school choruses. This LP being a good example of that format. This album for me has always had the feel of something like Unrest’s “Imperial ffrr” album. Something just really all over the map, songs, sounds, noise, sweetness, short pop songs, epics, all somehow united under a single banner and making a singular statement. I might also, more appropriately, compare it to Pink Floyd’s “A Saucerful of Secrets” which features a similar psychedelic murkiness, hard-to-decipher lyrics, inscrutable intentions occasionally interspersed with smaller “pop” songs, and a very long, somewhat noisy centerpiece song.

I have recently been introduced to the notion that each Phil record has dealt heavily with one of the “four elements” in this case “water” (the Mt. Eerie LP, “earth”, The Glow Pt.2 “fire”, and Wind’s Poem “wind” obviously).

This record was also my mysterious introduction to the mysterious Karl Blau, whose place in Microphones history is slowly coming into focus for me. I have always been a fan of naming a song in a very utilitarian way. Something terse and literal that describes it and Phil seems to love that too. On this album especially, “Drums” and all drum track, “Organs” and almost all organ drone track and of course “Karl Blau” a song, presumably, written by or featuring Karl.

Possibly the biggest single moments for me with this record so far have been:


(laying with voice in headphones, next to the Charles River, a view, in the distance, of the BU bridge, watching the sky,

don't reach out, Phil...)

In my last days/weeks in Boston before moving to Atlanta I spent a lot of time walking around and riding aimlessly on my bike, just trying to get lost, end up in places in the city I had never seen. Often these would take place on beautiful sunny days off around the city or on grey not-quite drizzly, sleepy afternoons after work, out into far Cambridge, Sommerville, Alewife, Davis Square, etc… I took this time to listen straight through to many of Phil’s albums and really sort of hang out with them and get to know them, (we’ll visit these scenarios again on future releases).

On this particular day it was sunny and hot and beautiful and I was probably just hanging around all day until people got off work and what not. I rode down to the park that is next to the Charles, just before the BU Bridge, on the Cambridgeport side of the river. At that time, down there, it was sort of this lost wasteland, mostly inaccessible and no one cared. A jogging path went by it that people would frequent and I myself would use, on my bike, as access to the heart of the city or Comm. Ave. Alongside this path was park land that was underdeveloped and sometimes frequented by the homeless or quasi-homeless. There was a playground, benches, a baseball field and so on (it has since been sadly developed into something much more “official”).

At this time there was a huge soccer field of grass that opened up under the sky in an amazing way. I rode down there and laid my bike down and then laid down in the grass and listened to “It Was Hot…” from start to finish. It was very much a perfect setting to take it all in. One that I think Phil would approve of. I just laid there in the grass and looked up into the blue of the sky and the occasional clouds and felt far away and huge. I reached up to it. As the album was ending, I distinctly recall, while “Organs” was beginning its swell, I got up and started walking my bike back up to the path and whatever the rest of my day held. I walked beneath the canopy of a huge tree as the song grew and grew.

On the morning I drove away from Allston, back to Atlanta, in a huge moving truck full of my entire life, all of me, my things and the entire last 10 years, I woke up in The Castle. I had planned my weekend/departure around this. At the beginning of the weekend I had rented the truck, loaded all my stuff in it and effectively moved-out of my apartment in Porter Square. I then drove the truck to Allston and parked it in Z and C’s driveway and spent my last epic weekend with all my friends, dancing and drinking (an epic story for some other time I suppose). The morning I was to leave it was what they call “moving day” in Boston. The day that all of the millions of students that flood into the city every fall for school show up, en masse, to move into their shitty apartments with the help and adulation of their confused families. Which is all well and good, but becomes a clusterfuck of Biblical proportions as everyone there is also trying to move in and out of their various homes all at the same time in the same space and moving vans are being waited on all over the city and the streets are literally covered and blocked and lined with trash from an entire year of debauchery as well as all of everyone’s possessions/entire lives. It is like trying to navigate a huge junkyard or the way they depict cities in post-apocalyptic movies (T4, Escape from NY/LA etc…) In retrospect, not the best morning to plan my departure for.

I awoke, hung over and very out of sorts from the night/weekend before, to find a living room full of people (most of which being my closest and most beloved friends in Boston, Coree, Zoe, Liz, Cabrie etc…) most of whom were in an also hung-over and very devastated state in regards to my departure/abandoning them. It was hot (and no water to stay in) as blazes and confusing and really too, too much to try to relate here and now (again, story for some other time and place).

Music needed to be put on to somehow alleviate the wretchedness, the crying, the zombie-like comings and goings. I think it was Coree that said “Bri Bri, what’s your favorite Phil album, or at least which one do you want me to put on right now?” In a strange moment for my brain this was the album that jumped out at me. I am really not sure why. I love it, but I would never have guessed that I’d ever present it as a “favorite” or a “last request” on my last day in town. And so it went on the stereo and we sat and we wallowed in the water, in the muddy murk, in the breeze and the crashing waves and it was extremely hard to leave.

At one point I went for a walk to say goodbye to Leslie and Karen up in Brookline which was painful, both because of the emotional gravity of it and because the streets were teeming with families and kids, lost in Allston, first timers with no idea, clogging the sidewalks and restaurants, dropping off their soon-to-not-be-innocent college-bound offspring. After awhile of that egress it was back to The Castle for the conclusion.

There was a lot of crying and hugging and I almost couldn’t get my truck out of their driveway and then when I did I was blocked into their street by the afore mentioned trash and moving trucks and much fretting happened and we tried to find the owners of the trucks and we all, as a team, went to the mouth of the street and, piece by piece, moved the trash and furniture to make an escape route. It was hard.
It was hot…
(--082, --021, --042, --011, was featured as the original title track for --005 but later replaced by “I Lost My Wind” [see the post for The Microphones: “Moon, Moon”/”I Lost My Wind” 7”] though this song remained on the mix itself], --059, --083, --096, --023, --254, [and one more track on this album yet to be used for a mix, stay tuned])

Tracklist (Vinyl)
Side A:

The Pull
Sand (Eric's Trip)
The Glow

Side B:

Karl Blau
The Gleam
The Breeze
Between Your Ear And The Other Ear

Tracklist (CD)
The Pull
Sand (Eric’s Trip)
The Glow
Karl Blau
The Gleam
The Breeze
Between Your Ear and the Other Ear


(Kelp Monthly #11 [aka Karl Blau and Friends Perform "It Was Hot, We Stayed in the Water" by The Microphones] front [with sleeve], back [with sleeve], front [no sleeve], back [no sleeve], full contents, CD front, back, inside of cover, insert)

It Was Hot, We Stayed in the Water
(as performed by Karl Blau and friends) (KELP Monthly #11)

From Karl’s website:
and Box 1307 Anacortes, WA 98221

Prompted by the acquisition of Phil Elverum's written out score of the Microphone's "It Was Hot, We Stayed in the Water" this version doesn't try to steer back to the shore by any means. That said, an element of the poppiness of the original Microphones record decided to stay. Karl Blau does much of the music and singing and is joined by Eddy Blau, Nate Ashley, Alexa DiSalvo, plus Phil himself singing with the Boomstand Singers choir in the first track "the Pull." Featuring the freshest Adrian Orange of Thanksgiving singing the epic "The Glow."

This was released as part of Karl’s monthly CD subscription service, which serves as an outlet for his insane prolificacy (there appear to be upwards of twenty something of these CDs in addition to Karls copious amounts of otherwise released CDs, collaborations and compilation appearances). I ended up with it through eBay and then discovered Karl’s site which has many, many of these available to order, physically and even more than that to order as digital downloads.

No clue what any of the release info on this or any of it is. Times, dates, places, numbers, amounts, it’s all a mystery. Certainly a project for someone for whom Karl is their Phil. I can at least say that, through accruing some of these releases, I have come to understand Karl a lot more and be blown away by him as a person, as a song writer, by his output and so on. I was trepid at first but it has all been worth it.

This in a hand-made/printed/painted/sewn cover with a xeroxed insert on blue paper. The CD itself appears to be a burned CDR.

Now, to the point. It seemed a fitting addendum to this entry to include this recent acquisition. It is exactly what it claims to be, Karl and friends, recording their version of the “It Was Hot…” album (well most of it anyway). And it’s really good. Pretty interesting stuff here. Very well executed, lots of care and love, well played and produced. Not at all dashed-off or sloppy. Really meant to be a loving tribute.

They don’t quite make it to all the songs, which makes the ones they do choose and don’t choose all the more interesting:

The Pull
The Blow
Karl Blau
The Gleam
The Breeze
Between Your Ear and the Other Ear
Study in Kelp #1
Study in Kelp #2
Study in Kelp #3
Study in Kelp #4
Study in Kelp #5

(The last five songs are, seemingly, unrelated to the album. Just weird, short tracks of, what amounts to, something clicking.)

In the end, the real draw here is hearing Karl Blau actually singing and performing the Microphones song called “Karl Blau”

Can you say “mirror facing mirror” anyone?

I had originally had a link here to a download of Karl's album. It was, however, brought to my attention that Karl still has this in print and that I should be directing people to supporting him rather than illegally downloading it for free. So, I have taken that to heart and removed the link. Olease patronize the amazing Karl Blau at his KELP site for this album and many, many, many others. The site info is at the top of this portion of the post. Cheers.



  1. hahaaha ive heard the epic story (and been a wee part of it) soo many times. misssss you!

  2. also, it's like a mini photo essay!!

  3. true, true. you are certainly a player in the story. thank you, as always for taking part in the sadly neglected "comments" section of the pages.