Volcano Choir – Unmap

September 23, 2009

volcanochoirVolcano Choir features a collaboration of two Wisconsin based bands: Collections Of Colonies of Bees and Bon Iver, or, respectively, Jon Mueller, Chris Rosenau, Jim Schoenecker, Daniel Spack, and Thomas Wincek, and Justin Vernon, who fronts the latter band. Some of the nine tracks included on Unmap, their debut record, were written in 2005, predating Bon Iver’s 2008 breakthrough album, For Emma, Forever Ago. Fans of that band’s eerie, ethereal vocals will find those present on Volcano Choir tracks, but some may be put off by the often heavily experimental feel of the music here. Unmap has its share of beautiful, richly meditative moments, but the band has a looser, more improvisational approach, akin perhaps to bands like Animal Collective, but having more in common musically with instrumental work by Brian Eno or Laurie Anderson. The only track I was put off by was “Still,” which employed the now dreaded Auto-Tune for some of its vocals, though it’s possible I’ll return to it later and appreciate it more. All in all, a very worthy effort, recommended for fans of the experimental, and anyone looking for some challenging, largely instrumental rock and pop. Standout cuts: “Husks and Shells,” “Island, IS,” “Mbira In The Morass” and “Youlagy.”



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