Volcano Choir Unmap

Volcano Choir Unmap

The key to this marriage between Justin Vernon and Wisconsin brethren Collections of Colonies of Bees seems to be "Woods," the final track on January's Blood Bank EP by Vernon's Bon Iver. That Auto-Tuned one-man barbershop is repurposed and expanded as "Still," a signpost on the album's less travelled path. Vernon's soulful falsetto swoops like a barn load of swallows through "Seeplymouth" or "And Gather," with churning rhythms built from handclaps and tom rolls that pull toward the frozen ground. "Island, IS" stands as the closest thing to what most will consider "a song," and it's likely to leave some wanting more. But the band instead keep shying away from either of their signature sounds. The result of this brave (or dumb) move creates a stranger beast than expectations of fractured folk songwriting with post-rock backing. Slight misses like "Dote" and "Youlogy" lack dimension for Vernon to truly inhabit, but they stay true to the spirit of this album. It's a difficult thing to love, but equally hard to dismiss. (Jagjaguwar)