[Rating: 3.5 STARS]
Wisconsin has been very, very good to Justin Vernon, who first recorded Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago in a cabin there and now has combined with members of Wisconsin band Collections of Colonies of Bees to put out the debut Volcano Choir album, recorded late last year at his studio in Fall Creek. It does have some songs with lyrics, but the emphasis here is on soundscape-created transcendence, achieved through unusual choral arrangements and quiet, fairly conventional acoustic instruments – sometimes propelled by a strong backbeat and electronic manipulation. The result conveys the pristine beauty but otherworldly remoteness of their home state’s backwoods wilderness. Think Sigur Rós without the symphonic grandeur or The Books without the overt intellectualism and you have the idea. It works very well.