Volcano Choir: Repave (Jagjaguwar) album review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Issue #47 - September/October 2013 - MGMTVolcano Choir



Sep 05, 2013 Volcano Choir Bookmark and Share

If Collections of Colonies of Bees’ music is math rock, then it’s hardly the vapid arithmetic you once learned in a room full of daydream believers at school. It’s the romanticized, rose-tinted version of math as seen in Good Will Huntingcompassionate in a genre defined by aloofness.

Prior to this record, the recorded output of Volcano Choirthe collaboration between the band and fellow Wisconsinite and Bon Iver mastermind Justin Vernonhas consisted of just one record: 2009’s Unmap. But it doesn’t take long for Repave to render that record something of a blueprint. Where Unmap balanced sporadic moments of brilliance with impenetrable soundscapes and confusing interludes, Repave is confident in its own purpose and identity.

From the word go, the swirling, unbroken organ synth in “Tiderays” is like a plumb line to a point of focusone where the band knows what it is and what it’s trying to achieve. Nowhere is this truer than in Repave‘s euphoric, stadium-ready choruses. The climax to “Acetate” seems designed specifically to raise spirits (“Shout it, shout it louder now,” Vernon demands) while the sense of community offered by the group roar (“Set sail!”) at the heartfelt zenith in “Byegone” is enough to invigorate even the most lifeless sloths among us.

None of the above is to say that there’s not enough intricate detail throughout Repave to reward repeated listens. The weightless nylon-stringed guitar lilt of “Alaskans,” for example, has just enough embellishment surrounding it to enhance without overburdening (an electronic glitch here, a passing synth thereeven an old, unintelligible spoken recording).

With Unmap, Volcano Choir clearly had the raw materials it needed to create something stunningbut those materials were left unarranged, scattered, and disparate. Repave is built from the same basic building blocks, but they’ve been die-cast into a definite moldand the results are remarkable. (www.volcanochoir.com)

Author rating: 8/10

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