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Bon Iver triumphs with '22, A Million'

Bon Iver - '22 A Million'
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When we were first encapsulated by the emotional and desolate sound of Justin Vernon’s incarnation as Bon Iver, he managed to convey an eternal feeling which felt previously undiscovered. The plucked strings and dreaming falsetto seemed like epic acoustic wonders drifting slowly through the woods to our welcoming ears. But now things have changed.

Now Vernon is using all the tools available to a modern artist to create and continue to distinguish his own artistic output, but with all the tools put aside this album still holds the hearts, bodies and souls of its audience. This is progression from the foundational For Emma, Forever Ago and the bricks and mortar of Bon Iver, Bon Iver, this is the modern home with the same beating heart.

Using vocoders, samples and electro complexions, Vernon paints the same picture with a different brush. We see this clearly on ’10 d E A T h b R E a s t ⚄ ⚄’ where he uses heavy electronics to create a sound worthy of an art exhibition. ’33 GOD’ uses a compilation of tinkling ivories and samples to make a marriage worthy of celebration. It feels homespun and fresh, like a warm cup of cocoa with an unheard twist.

’22 (OVER S∞∞n)’ is equally triumphant, engaging on every sensory department the track multiplies through layering whilst maintaining Vernon’s singular soulful sound. The album in total is to be devoured as just that. Although recent releases have felt like stand-alone tracks, ‘hits’ actually, the real McCoy of Vernon’s work comes in LP format and this latest effort is no different.

The music may have been altered, the tools used may be sharpened and modernised, the technique honed and cultured but the final product is still as poignant and deeply affecting as any of Bon Iver’s previous work. His ability to shapeshift without distracting the eye, to completely transform sound and space without letting the cold in, not only makes Vernon impressive, it makes him a future icon, a zeitgeist artist we will all be pleased to have heard at his height.