Music review: Volcano Choir, Barbican, London
'A mind-blowing eruption of folk-rock, post-punk and electronica'
Tuesday 12 November 2013
“He’s a legend/ I’m a legend/ And we both go tripping through the floor,” maintains Justin Vernon on the muscular “Byegone”. The rousing track, from Volcano Choir’s new album Repave, is redolent of the National at their most brooding with some Matt Berninger-style riddling to match: “Tossin’ off your compliments, wow/ Sexing all your Parliaments.”
Former cabin dweller Vernon, with his Grammy-winning Bon Iver seemingly in permanent hiatus, is channelling all his energies into his meatier “side project”, Volcano Choir, a collaboration with members of the experimental post-rockers Collections of Colonies of Bees. Their 2009 debut, Unmap, was a minimalist and slightly challenging affair.
Repave is crisper, more confident and Vernon is clearly enthused (he even dances) by the three nimble guitarists beside him. Particularly by the hyperactive Chris Rosenau who does most of the talking tonight and, in his excitement, falls over during an epic “Still”, a sample of Bon Iver's “Woods”. Vernon tell us that “Still” will “hopefully will fuck your brain up”, and it's certainly a psychedelic slice of electronica with Vernon's distinctive falsetto to the fore.
“Still” concludes a sensational four-song section that includes an exquisitely hushed “Alaskans”, “Acetate” (which recalls early Peter Gabriel) and “Byegone”. It's a mind-blowing eruption (sorry) of folk-rock, post-punk and electronica. A triumph.
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
The best underrated Christmas movies from Love, Actually to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits record low as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Germany sees 'visible rise' in support for far-right extremism in response to perceived 'Islamisation' of the West