Sunday, 1 February 2009
Bon Iver's innate ability to take such basic chord structures and simple reverbial melodies, and turn them into something eery and life changing is evident as ever on Blood Bank, the four track January release from Justin Vernon, Mike Noyce and Sean Carey. The cabin-recorded debut album 'For Emma, Forever Ago' is quite simply stunning, recorded deep in the woods of Wisconsin at various points throughout a soul searching four month stay for Justin Vernon. The first album is as introvertive as music gets, honestly recorded on a basic four track with ambient noises, foggy acoustic strums and a layered choral falsetto on a mindblowing expanse of folk music.
The Blood Bank EP sounds more like a man who has returned to the real world and is still quite confused by it all. There is a step up in recording quality and a fuller sound probably brought on by a real recording studio and the recruitment of Noyce and Carey for 2008's world tour. Bon Iver has sold out worldwide, and gone from a few forgettable folk music projects to a widely reported and respected band with one of the most emotionally intense live shows on the planet. The EP i'm glad doesn't reflect this new found fame. Bon Iver quite simply, hasn't let it get to his head.
There is a limited new incorporation of instrumentation, but everything retains the rawness and simpleness of the lightly strummed acoustic folk music Vernon has claimed his own. A piano rattles through the third track 'Babys' and either a radical new singing style or a revolutionary new use of a voicebox is on display in the finale 'Woods'. The song is almost entirely vocal, with a multitude of strong falsettos and the first of Bon Iver's arrangements with a substantial time period lacking instruments. The first hint of an experimental influence on Bon Iver occurred to me during the vocal intro to the track.
The first two songs however are the highlights for me. There is just something beautiful about the first track 'Blood Bank' from the eponymous EP which i don't think i can accurately describe. The distorted muffled sound of the guitars, dreamy, late summer vocals, and the choral build up to a turbulent finish makes for one of my favourite tracks of 2009 so far, on as ecletic a follow up to Bon Iver's debut as anyone could have imagined.
Blood Bank (mp3)