Colin Stetson: New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Issue #45 - Winter 2013 - PhoenixColin Stetson

New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light


May 01, 2013 Issue #45 - Winter 2013 - Phoenix Bookmark and Share

You may not know it, but Colin Stetson’s high-wire saxophone acrobatics are likely already embedded in your record collection. Featured in work from the likes of Arcade Fire, Feist, Tom Waits, TV on the Radio, and Bon Iver, Stetson’s (here entirely solo) saxophone playing relies upon a technique known as “circular breathing”-pushing air stored in the cheeks and throat out as the nose draws new air in-to create a constant, unbroken stream of sound. It’s this that allows the likes of New History Warfare Vol. 3‘s uninterrupted 15-minute centerpiece to become a reality.

Considering Stetson’s current day job as part of Bon Iver’s touring line-up, it’s not so surprising that Justin Vernon’s unmistakable vocals should feature here. Stetson’s music is bracingly original in any context, but as song accompaniment it becomes something else entirely. One and a half minute opener “And In Truth” is tantalizingly short-a husky gospel number that borders on transcendence before being abruptly snatched away. “What Are They Doing In Heaven Today?” pursues similar themes, Vernon preaching a credo over an accompaniment that is simultaneously playful and robust; dancing embers over the stout heat of the fire below.

In many ways, New History Warfare Vol. 3 marks no great departure from previous releases, but don’t let this deter you-Stetson has ventured into uncharted territory, and the heretofore-unheard sounds that he’s brought back are utterly bewitching. (

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10


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