Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Volcano Choir Album Details Revealed

By Evan Rytlewski
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Just a heads up: In the next couple of months, we'll all be hearing a ton about the debut album from Volcano Choir, the collaboration between Milwaukee's Collections of Colonies of Bees and Bon Iver's Justin Vernon, Unmap. It's one of the most anticipated albums of the year, and it has real potential to put a deserving local band (and perhaps to some extent the city) on the map, so I apologize in advance for whatever Danny Gokey-esque over-coverage Volcano Choir receives, but this is a big deal for the Milwaukee music scene; maybe the biggest since Citizen King.

The pre-release press blitz for Volcano Choir's Unmap begins today, with the band's label Jagjaguwar unveiling the album cover, tracklist and talking points. Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines­:

Volcano Choir is the assembly of Wisconsinites Jon Mueller, Chris Rosenau, Jim Schoenecker, Daniel Spack, Justin Vernon, and Thomas Wincek.

One might find these old friends also frequenting records and stages under the monikers Collections of Colonies of Bees and Bon Iver. The Volcano Choir collaboration predates the meteoric rise of Justin Vernon's Bon Iver project, with original songwriting dating back to the summer of 2005 - right around the time the Bees first toured with Vernon's previous band DeYarmond Edison.

Jagjaguwar will release the first project by Volcano Choir, Unmap, on September 22nd (21st in the UK), worldwide.

While entirely a studio record, the collection doesn't suffer from a digital pile up or over-thinking. Rather, it breathes and convulses in equal measure, radiating an inherent dynamism found only in the voluntary bondage of intimacy. With influences ranging from David Sylvian and Steve Reich to Mahalia Jackson and Tom Waits, it might be more accurate to say the group's influence is music itself. You can hear it in the care and real love generously applied to each moment of Unmap. With the vibe of some intimate backwoods gospel, plus a spirit of patience and thoughtful repetition, the music of Volcano Choir is as dynamic as it is lovely.

Unmap ultimately came together over a weekend in November 2008 in Fall Creek, Wisconsin, at Justin and brother Nate Vernon's recording studio. And while it is at its heart a record about the allure of being with people you need and making something with them, it is also a document created by musicians with rare gifts getting together to exorcise their ideas about beauty. This scaffolding of loops and off grid tempos for choral style vocals offers a state of continual surprise, call it unexpectation.

Unmap:
1. Husks and Shells
2. Seeplymouth
3. Island, IS
4. Dote
5. And Gather
6. Mbira in the Morass
7. Cool Knowledge
8. Still
9. Youlogy

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