Justin Vernon and S. Carey of Bon Iver, Ryan Olson, founder of Vernon’s other band Gayngs, and the Minneapolis rapper Astronautalis, have made an album together, On the Tune points out. According to an interview with Astro in City Pages, the group is “hell-bent on getting [the album] out really quickly” and playing shows.
Astro tells City Pages that the group recently tracked the record at Vernon’s April Base studio in Wisconsin during a “whiskey-fueled weekend.” Vernon, Carey, and Olson created eight pieces of music, which he freestyled over for eight hours. But, according to City Pages, the album “will only sound like a hip-hop record to a certain degree.” The rapper documented the session on his Tumblr, offering some super scenic shots from the area surrounding Vernon’s studio.
After a royal clusterfuck at the gate that resulted in my photographer being denied entry, I was ushered to my seat just in time to catch the crystalline opening notes of nine-piece behemoth Bon Iver. Blanketed by an explosion of fluorescent strobes, the band showcased a range of Mars Voltian peaks and naked acoustic valleys for the sold-out Spreckels Theatre.
Though the set list leaned heavily toward the self-titled second album, For Emma, Forever Ago got its shine through the richly textured “Creature Fear” and the encore sing-along of “Skinny Love.”
Bon Iver’s sonic oeuvre is simultaneously sad and uplifting, filling the mezzanine with its melodic vigor and slowly spilling out into the lobby. Even “Beth/Rest,” a track often decried as a cheesy ’80s trope, sounded rapturous over the downtown venue’s well-contained sound system.
In a short time, Justin Vernon has emerged as one of the most powerful voices of this generation. His haunting wail climbed the walls of the ornate theatre through songs such as “Flume” and “Holocene,” despite its beauty being sporadically punctured by martini-laden vixens looking to fill their “WOO-HOO!” quotas for the evening.
Skyrocketed by raw sincerity and a string of recent kingmaking appearances on Jimmy Fallon and the Colbert Report, the high-powered machine that is Justin Vernon’s Bon Iver shows no signs of letting up. Coming on the heels of For Emma, Forever Ago, the cabin-crafted monument to a dead dream, the band’s self-titled second full-length explores themes of isolation and longing under surging swells of dripping guitars and absorbing keys. While still yielding to the thousand yard stare mentality of its predecessor, the new album is a much warmer affair aurally if not content-wise.
If you take the time to really listen to Bon Iver, in a pitch-black room of undivided attention, soundscapes such as “Calgary” and “Holocene” can take you to another planet. And maybe that’s a morose planet engulfed by a floating nebula of lost lovers, depending on how the notes hit you, but the transforming and cutting beauty of Bon Iver’s interlocking parts makes for a delightfully jaw-dropping listening experience.
In an industry flooded with trumpeted artists not worth their weight in salt, Bon Iver’s abstract ruminations more than warrant the hype. The nine-piece touring behemoth will be making its way across the U.S. in September and Europe in October.
Here’s phase two in Bon Iver’s somewhat unexpected but ultimately logical recent fixation on Icelandic things: From a recurring Björk live cover to making the video for this Bon Iver, Bon Iver standout a walkabout in her home land, here is the pretty, crystalline clip for “Holocene.” Justin’s not in it, but an adorable rockskipper named Hilke is. Directed by Nabil, who recently turned heads with that clip for Frank Ocean’s “Novacane.”
The video comes in support of Justin’s “Holocene” 12″, out 9/5 via 4AD, and backed with his cover of Peter Gabriel’s “Come Talk To Me.”