Release Date: Sep 3, 2013
Record label: Jagjaguwar
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Post-Rock
Repave cannot only be defined as merely the sophomore effort of the Justin Vernon–fronted Volcano Choir, but as the work of seasoned musicians exploring their own creative boundaries. It is the exploration of men who hold each other up—who help guide each other through the darkened woods into a place that’s filled with peace of mind. The album ruminates upon the meaning of its title: you are not replacing what already exists; rather, you are improving upon it, allowing yourself to retell the story and revise the ending.
Repave’s album cover takes me back to a different place and time. More specifically, early April-- I was watching the ocean unfold, an endless blanket of blue. The waves were either clashing against each other or working in harmony, existing in some kind of vexing relationship with the moon. As my friend and I relaxed on the beachfront, as the pigeons above our heads flew north, everything fell into some kind of discernible rhythm-- nature itself, unfurled in front of us.
Volcano ChoirRepave[Jagjaguwar; 2013]By Brendan Frank; September 12, 2013Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetJustin Vernon is a busy man. Between dissing the Grammys, apologizing for dissing the Grammys, accepting Grammys, holing up with Kanye West in French hotel rooms, and releasing albums with The Shouting Matches and now Volcano Choir, he’s barely had time to discuss how tired he is of Bon Iver. Contrary to panic-induced hypotheticals, while Vernon’s main gig is no longer his main gig, it isn’t exactly defunct either.
On the second time out for the shaggy dog combination of Bon Iver's Justin Vernon and the gentlemen of Collections of Colonies of Bees, things are much more focused. On 2009's Unmap, the pen pal recording experiment yielded a handful of songs wrapped in the gauze of more ephemeral and meandering songlets. Here, even on non-linear pieces like "Keel," Vernon (likely practiced from collaborating with Colin Stetson) takes a more direct path through the haze, turning it into a recognizable theme.
Three years in the making, Repave – Volcano Choir’s second long player – arrives some four years after the acclaimed debut, 2009’s Unmap. The collaborative that is Volcano Choir is for all intents and purposes somewhat of a ‘low-key’ supergroup, containing members of unsung bands including Collections Of Colonies Of Bees (originally), All Tiny Creatures, Group Of The Altos and Death Blues. They do however possess a jewel in the crown – Justin Vernon, he of the falsetto voice adorning the lush textures of Bon Iver.
If Collections of Colonies of Bees' music is math rock, then it's hardly the vapid arithmetic you once learned in a room full of daydream believers at school. It's the romanticized, rose-tinted version of math as seen in Good Will Hunting—compassionate in a genre defined by aloofness..
Justin Vernon's star has risen considerably in the years since Volcano Choir's 2009 debut, Unmap, so it's no surprise that the Bon Iver frontman takes center stage on the band's sophomore effort, Repave. Where on Unmap his vocals were largely buried, here they're given equal billing with the cacophony of guitars, synths, and drums, a shift in prominence that expands on the group's mix of live and processed elements. While Unmap was habitually tranquil, with tracks built from wandering sonic layers and little regard for structure, Repave immediately signals urgency, with the cyclical acoustic guitar of the album's opening track, “Tiderays,” circling back on itself and a steady kick drum driving the song forward unrelentingly.
The music Justin Vernon creates as Bon Iver leaves itself wide open to interpretation, comically so at times. But almost no one interprets it as “fun.” Now consider Wisconsin experimental post-rock outfits Collections of Colonies of Bees and All Tiny Creatures and the fact that “experimental post-rock” never promises a load of laughs either. These are the parties that comprise Volcano Choir and on their second LP Repave, the sextet have created a grandiose record with arena-rock ambitions and ostentatious beauty that is mostly inscrutable on a lyrical level.
Although he’s inevitably become the main accredited name behind Volcano Choir’s sophomore LP, Justin Vernon wrote barely any of the music on Repave. Rather, most of it was helmed by his fellow Wisconsinite bandmates, in turn letting Vernon concentrate on his vocal delivery, which he challenges and stretches here like he never has before on record. By melding the invaluable element that is Justin Vernon with a microphone to a chunk of surprisingly boisterous song ideas (twice as focused as those from their 2009 debut Unmap and a step more sonically advanced) Volcano Choir, too, find their voice on Repave.
Repave is not the sophomore album that I expected Volcano Choir to make. The group — which then consisted of Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon alongside members of Wisconsin experimental crew Collections of Colonies of Bees — released its debut, Unmap, in 2009, just a year or so after Bon Iver’s wildly popular first album and less than two years before Vernon would unleash his second. In retrospect, Unmap’s sandwiching between these two albums makes perfect contextual sense; the comparative abstraction and experimentation of the first Volcano Choir record functioned both as an assertion of Vernon’s artistic independence in the wake of For Emma, Forever Ago’s widespread populist appeal and as an early hint of the vastly upgraded compositional complexity that would define Bon Iver, Bon Iver.
Won over by the Collections Colonies of Bees' 2004 album, Customer, Justin Vernon (aka Bon Iver) recruited the post-rock group's Jon Mueller, Jim Schoenecker, Chris Rosenau, Daniel Spack, and Thomas Wincek to back him up in a side project titled Volcano Choir. The name is a fitting description of the band's sound, which is at times hushed and introspective, and at other times explosive with epic, anthemic harmonies. 2013's Repave picks up where 2009's Unmap left off, and marks a nice direction for Vernon.
Pining for a new Bon Iver record? Desperate to hear a fully grown man with a beard reveal his manly feelings? Then ‘Repave’, the second album from Justin Vernon’s Volcano Choir, should help. Apart from the weirdly out-of-place vocoder moment on ‘Comrade’, it’s a layered, lush and lovely eight-track affair. The meaty ‘Byegone’ prowls like a randy sasquatch, while ‘Alaskans’ offers a softer, more meandering kind of laptop folkishness.
One can accuse Justin Vernon of many things, but being devoid of a sense of humor isn’t one of them. Any conversation about either him or the Bon Iver name necessarily conjures up the ghosts of shock that were felt when the collective indiesphere, after sitting through the first nine of Bon Iver, Bon Iver’s 10 tracks, came upon the zany troll that is “Beth/Rest. ” Few likely imagined that the market—either economically or artistically—for ‘80s sex scene backing songs was still viable, but lo and behold, there it was: an unabashed, Casio-drenched ballad that culminates in a dual saxophone solo.
What did you expect Justin Vernon to do after For Emma, Forever Ago? If your answer is 'make an album with obscure post-rock collective Collections of Colonies of Bees' you're either lying or clairvoyant. Because of course, that's what he did, forming Volcano Choir and releasing the difficult, shifting—yet sometimes beautiful—Unmap in 2009. That album was compiled in fragments sent via email, each part recorded in isolation.
As Bon Iver, Justin Vernon mixes the solitary directness of folk songs with the grandeur of ambient and soundtrack music – a strategy that makes his best songs breast-beatingly transcendent and his worst a mush of emotions. His second collaboration with fellow Wisconsinites Collections of Colonies of Bees highlights these tendencies in roughly equal measure. Highlights "Comrade" and "Alaskans" are abstract but inspiringly muscular, while other songs drift into panoramas of tentative guitar lines, distant whooshing sounds and Vernon's wounded falsetto singing couplets not even he would dare make sense of.
opinion byRAJ DAYAL With a distinctive voice that flows like centuries-old water finding its way through cracks, Justin Vernon forgoes another Bon Iver album in favor of, Repave, his second outing as the lead vocalist of Volcano Choir. Volcano Choir is essentially the post-rock group Collection of Colonies of Bees helmed by Vernon; however, the experimental interplay of phrasing and structure allow all of them to push forward towards new musical horizons. The group’s first effort in 2009, Unmap, is awash in atmospherics that mainly engaged Vernon’s haunting voice to color and shade what was an already accomplished sound.
More explosive than 2009’s Unmap, this second album from the combined Collections and Colonies of Bees and Justin Vernon takes the machine-like intricacy of instrumental post rock, the airy spirituality of Bon Iver into a more forceful direction. Like the National, Volcano Choir drapes its indie rock anthemry over unusually sharp and interesting drumming. Here’s its Jon Mueller, an intense and brilliant percussionist, one of the few drummers able, really, to carry a solo album.
Factory Floor FACTORY FLOOR. “Factory Floor” (DFA), the self-titled debut album by an English electronic trio, is a present-day blast from an austere past. At the end of the 1970s, the combination of art-punk aesthetics, primitive electronic instruments, do-it-yourself budgets and a British ….
As Justin Vernon takes some needed time off from his celebrated Grammy-winning musical outlet of Bon Iver, he has thankfully focused his creative talents on many other projects — from releasing a full length with his longtime friends in Shouting Matches, to producing the forthcoming Blind Boys of Alabama record, as well as completing Repave, the magnificent second album from Volcano Choir. Vernon formed the group in the mid-2000?s with his fellow Wisconsin musical cohorts in Collections Of Colonies Of Bees, and while their entirely collaborative 2009 debut, Unmap, took a few years to coalesce and take shape, the ethereal, inventive sounds generated on that record elegantly complimented the delicate music Vernon was crafting in Bon Iver, and gave late-arriving fans another side of the burgeoning musician to dig into and discover. But on Repave, Volcano Choir takes a bold, assertive artistic leap forward, with songs that are luxurious as well as inviting, allowing the listener to blissfully lose themselves within the evocative, intimate arrangements that the group poured over during the past few years.
Volcano Choir is Bon Iver main man Justin Vernon’s project with the members of Wisconsin post-rock band Collections Of Colonies Of Bees. They’ve already made one album of, yep that’s right, hazy, pastoral anthems and now they’re back with album number two. The fact that Vernon’s voice is so distinctive means it’s difficult to distinguish this from his Bon Iver work yet there’s more than enough shimmering beauty here to get excited about.