Volcano Choir is a project of Justin Vernon, who is otherwise known as the Grammy-winning indie artist Bon Iver. While most are familiar with Vernon for the latter, Volcano Choir actually existed for years before Vernon ever released Bon Iver material.
Volcano Choir began as a collaboration between Vernon and members of one of his favorite bands, Collections of Colonies of Bees; consisting of Jon Mueller, Chris Rosenau, Daniel Spack, and Thomas Wincek (Matthew Skemp was added later). Slowly trading ideas through the mail and writing together in sporadic meetups, the band recorded their first LP, Unmap, in Vernon’s no-frills home studio, and released it in 2009.
Unmap was met with critical success, which led to a tour of Japan and the US–the first time Volcano Choir had ever performed the songs live. In fact, it was the first time they even played in the same room together, as up until this point, their music was written in segments and solidified in the studio. Nevertheless, it was this tour that helped Volcano Choir discover that they were more than a just project–they were a band that now had an audience and a purpose.
Between 2010 and 2013, Volcano Choir traded ideas in a number of writing sessions until they had enough material to begin recording another full length. The band holed up in April Base Studios in Fall Creek, WI, which provided all the gear, instruments and wintry surroundings they would ever need to make something great. The result is Repave, Volcano Choir’s second LP released under the Jagjaguwar label.
The record is a collection of experimental, heavy, but entirely digestible songs. The cover art–a big profound wave–totally foreshadows the majestic feel of this record. While this is far from an acoustic guitar-driven album, the instrument plays a pivotal role. The moments of acoustic guitar provide a warm ambience–a contrast to the simmering fusion of obtuse electric guitar lines, synths and weirdo (read: awesome) vocals. The acoustic guitar is a central element of the band, and to me, translates the winter-In-Wisconsin vibe of this LP in the best way.
Repave proves just how well the band members know each other musically, and personally. Each player has a unique voice and playing style, but rather than create a competing wall of sound, the members support and add nuance to each other, resulting in surprising, never-a-dull-moment listening experience.
The video below is the Repave album trailer, which shows footage of the band members recording at April Base Studios. Volcano Choir tour Europe next month, followed by a US run in January. Learn more about at volcanochoir.com.
Volcano Choir Repage Official Album Trailer
Tom Gilbert is a guitarist (and aspiring pedal steel player) living in the San Francisco Bay Area. When he’s not blogging for Acoustic Nation, eating Thai food or being obsessed with his dog, Tom does marketing and PR for music and audio companies with Mad Sun Marketing.