Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A more forceful Volcano Choir

My review of Volcano Choir, the weird mutant offspring of mega-indie star Justin Vernon and the Table of Elements vetted experimentaists in Collections and Colonies of Bees runs today at Blurt. Can you tell I used to be a drummer?

More explosive than 2009’s Unmap, this second album from the combined Collections and Colonies of Bees and Justin Vernon takes the machine-like intricacy of instrumental post rock, the airy spirituality of Bon Iver into a more forceful direction.

Like the National, Volcano Choir drapes its indie rock anthemry over unusually sharp and interesting drumming. Here’s its Jon Mueller, an intense and brilliant percussionist, one of the few drummers able, really, to carry a solo album. In Repave, Mueller seems to have moved slightly forward in the mix, not dominating, certainly, but putting his mark on nearly every track. Most of these tracks start in restraint, a drone and vibration building, a few beautifully realized sounds sketching mood and melody, a thread of vocals…and then explosion. Mueller is the force behind these volume shifts, an exhilarating push into overdrive.


I decided to review Repave after seeing Volcano Choir on Fallon (a video which is, sadly, not available anymore). Here instead is a concert that the band did for NPR about a week ago.

One more thing, when I saw Sam Amidon in September, he had just come off a show with Volcano Choir and he went off on a long riff about Jon Mueller the drummer. The essence was that Mueller looks just like Christopher Walken and also plays the drums exactly like Christopher Walken would, if he played drums. I think we can all think Amidon for the abiding image of Christopher Walken playing drums (with intensity, I imagine, slightly demented humor and weird, pause-filled cadences).

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