It's almost 6AM here in Berlin and the days when light had overtaken that time of the day are long forgotten. But I woke up to find Bon Iver's 22, A Million being available for public streaming, so I wrote... this.
After missing their secret concert and attending a strange album launch "event" organized here in Berlin it's time to finally get to the record. By the time I'm creating this feature, I've heard the whole album 2 times and of course the prior countless streams of ""33 GOD", "10 d E A T h b R E a s T ⊠ ⊠" and "22 (OVER S∞∞N)", so... in a way - very raw view of an album I've been waiting for a long, long time. Probably all of us.
22, A Million is band's first record in 5 years. Yep, you were that young when Bon Iver, Bon Iver came out. I don't know if that post-Emma, Forever Ago record were meant to be strange, but this one... definitely feels this way. I would like to challenge anyone to pronounce the 10 track titles on this record. The ASCII-driven names are... not sure how to put it besides using bizzarely cool.
1. 22 (OVER S∞∞N) 2. 10 d E A T h b R E a s T ⚄ ⚄ 3. 715 - CRΣΣKS 4. 33 “GOD” 5. 29 #Strafford APTS 6. 666 ʇ 7. 21 M♢♢N WATER 8. 8 (circle) 9. ____45_____ 10. 00000 Million
I was laying down on my couch, listening to 22, A Million and by the time I had reached "666 ʇ" for the first time I felt my mind had spaced to some really familiar and welcoming place. Like that spot from your childhood you still go today when you want to be alone. And this experience felt so fucking good. The music throughout the 34 minutes of the LP is filled with spacious synths, interesting choice of samples, auto-tune, Justin Vernon's amazing voice, haunting brass sections, falsetto, gospel snippets... and way way way more tiny elements waiting to be discovered.
Regardless what the drive behind writing this album was, regardless what the drive behind any Bon Iver album is, Justin Vernon's ability to create absolutely stunning music seems to be encoded in his chromosomes. It's beautiful, interesting, personal, it has a lot of Bon Iver in it.
It is a very good reason to be awake at 6AM.
I thought it would be nice to take some time and give credit to all talented people who joined Vernon on this 22, A Million journey - Sean Carey, who is an awesome musician (drums, keyboards, vocals), Matthew McCaughan (drums, vocals), Michael Lewis (bass, saxophone, keyboards, vocals), Emily Staveley-Taylor (guitar, vocals), Jessica Staveley-Taylor & Camilla Staveley-Taylor ( vocals), Andrew Fitzpatrick (guitar, keyboards, vocals)