When Justin Vernon comes to Madison this Friday, it won’t be to perform with Bon Iver, the solo passion project that cultivated a mythology out of the creation of an outstanding album, then expanded into a Grammy-winning mini-orchestra of a band, and solidified Vernon as a Wisconsin state hero. No, he’ll be playing the Orpheum with his other (some might call it a side) project, Volcano Choir. The band, also comprised of members of All Tiny Creatures and Collections of Colonies of Bees, released an album called Unmap in 2009, a serene experiment of a record that channels the cathedral-echoes of Bon Iver’s first album.
Still Unmap, a soothing and musically interesting album, looks like a rookie effort by a group of talented musicians when compared to Volcano Choir’s new record, Repave which is quite simply sublime. The songs are bigger, bolder, and more ambitious. They are truly grandiose mountains of tracks, particularly the thundering, “Byegone” which seems to have been made to conduct the storming seas the album’s cover depicts. “Alaskans” is another standout track that feels tied to some natural landscape…perhaps a still forest during the onset of winter…maybe in Alaska.
The band spent two years working on the album, recording here in Wisconsin, utilizing a lot of sampling and effects. The long grueling work has paid off and the record certainly sounds methodically, painstakingly thought-out. Jagjaguwar released a ten-minute “Making of Repave” video on YouTube a few months ago, showing some behind the scenes footage of the band recording as well as a brief glimpse of Justin Vernon in a Badger t-shirt while walking through an airport. Watch it to get a quick introduction to Volcano Choir’s sound and don’t miss them at The Orpheum this Friday.
Making of ‘Repave’