Volcano Choir: Angels And Experiments

More choral than volcanic, Volcano Choir finds the Milwaukee-based experimental band Collections of Colonies of Bees collaborating with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. The resulting group's odd, spliced-and-diced instrumental pastiches aren't exactly linear, but the presence of Vernon's voice — often layered to create the aforementioned choral effect — lends warmth and heft to Volcano Choir's debut album, Unmap.

Tuesday's Pick

  • Song: "Youlogy"
  • Artist: Volcano Choir
  • CD: Unmap
  • Genre: Rock
Volcano Choir i i

In Volcano Choir's "Youlogy," the experimental band Collections of Colonies of Bees collaborates with Bon Iver's Justin Vernon. Cameron Wittig hide caption

itoggle caption Cameron Wittig
Volcano Choir

In Volcano Choir's "Youlogy," the experimental band Collections of Colonies of Bees collaborates with Bon Iver's Justin Vernon.

Cameron Wittig

Of all the lovely strangeness on Unmap, its songs are never sweeter than the album-closing "Youlogy." Even if Volcano Choir isn't consciously channeling Jeff Buckley's "You & I," the track feels like a worthy sequel to that atmospheric gem, not to mention a rich reminder of just how sweetly angelic Vernon's voice can be. With Collections of Colonies of Bees providing minimal accompaniment — a bit of shimmering guitar here, a few plucked banjo strings there — Vernon is left to paint a mysterious but compelling picture, making vague references to devotion when he's not just cooing alluringly.

Vernon's breakthrough album with Bon Iver, last year's For Emma, Forever Ago, is viscerally emotional; it's a blood-and-guts record. Here, Vernon shows off a side that qualifies as the opposite of that: ethereal, mysterious, hard to pin down. Of everything he and his co-conspirators accomplish on Unmap — and especially in "Youlogy" — what stands out most is an unmistakable ability to surprise.

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Unmap

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Album
Unmap
Artist
Volcano Choir
Label
Jagjaguwar
Released
2009

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