With the release of his first album, For Emma, Forever Ago, Justin Vernon, the lead singer of Bon Iver, solidified himself as one of those singers whose soft haunting vocals are hard to forget. Since then, his music has become increasingly experimental.
On the Blood Bank EP, released earlier this year, his sound had a more ambient, boundless quality and he is taking it even further on his collaboration with post-rock band Collections of Colonies of Bees. Together, Wisconsinites Jon Mueller, Chris Rosenau, Jim Schoenecker, Daniel Spack, Justin Vernon, and Thomas Wincek, form Volcano Choir and they just released a short album of experimental pop, Unmap, in late September. On the album, Vernon’s voice is the most distinct, but it is one of many, both falsetto and full, that are harmonized and layered on top of one another. The music on Unmap is infused with a sense of limitless possibility partly because these tracks aren’t really traditional songs, composed of verses and choruses, and words tied to meanings. The music is more about the harmonies, layers, and textures of sound that they are creating. This makes sense for a collaboration between Vernon and the members of Collections of Colonies of Bees, who were described by Pitchfork as having “proven to be the rare instrumental rock band with ideas about how to keep things both surprising and musical …” For more evidence of that listen to “Flocks IV.”
Today’s jam, “Island, IS”, the first single off the album, which they have available for download today through their label Jagjaguwar records, is probably the most conventional song, on the album but, in my opinion, it’s the best.
Volcano Choir – Island, IS: