Five years. It’s been five years since Bon Iver has given us a new song. Bon Iver, the name for Justin Vernon’s musical project has caught the public’s (and my) ear with noteworthy tracks such as the song (seemingly covered by everyone) “Skinny Love”, “Holocene”, (and my personal favorite) “For Emma”. Well he is finally back with a slightly different (but very interesting) sound, in this emotive and evocative track, “22 (OVER S∞∞N) [Bob Moose Extended Cab Version]”. My dude is back and it’s honestly so great.
Imagine if time slowed down in the darkness of your mother’s womb. You’re curled up in there floating around and the noise of the steady beat of her heart keeping rhythm permeates and stretches all around you. It’s warm and comforting and serene. At least that’s what I imagine what living inside of my mom’s uterus was like, I don’t actually remember because if I did, that would be a fucking miracle. But the track begins with that kind of vibe. Steady pulses of noise keep time rhythmically.
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On Bon Iver‘s 22 (OVER S∞∞N) [Bob Moose Extended Cab Version], the noise is soothing and sinks into the crevices of your brain.
It’s like dropping pebbles into a clear pond. It starts at a point and fades out in ripples only to repeat the loop once again. It’s warm noise, oddly comforting, but dark and heavy as well, like tropical rain.
Modulated vocals repeating “it might be over soon” warp and wrap themselves around the music, layering themselves in pleasant ways, preparing us for what’s to come. Vernon begins to sing in his characteristic gentle, almost orchestral voice. Like the name of the project, it’s unique and jagged and crisp, much like a good winter. His voice echoes and harmonizes cutting its own path through the music. The loop almost falters and crackles slightly underneath his voice. His voice is joined by gentle guitar strums and piano chords. The gentleness of the instrumentation is fresh and to put it quite simply, absolutely lovely. It sounds as delicate as fresh shoots of grass pushing through the ground, just barely alive. The strength of the background loop is contrasted with the gentleness of the guitar and piano. It feels like if you exhale just a little bit too hard it will shatter. An iridescent bubble floating through a pinewood forest.
Between two of the verses, there is a brief interlude with a wonderful sax solo, led in by some strings carpeting the sound scape. I may be biased because I personally love the huskily smooth sound of a saxophone. It melts into the music, while still distinctively standing out. It was like pouring honey on snow. The sax was pleasant and golden and light, dripping through the crisp sounds and serves as a great transition between the verses.
The loop finally ends, and cutting through the silence is one last “it might be over soon”. “It might be over soon” is a powerful phrase, one that I think about a lot, because we never really know when everything is going to end. Life is fragile and delicate and unexpected. It’s like those flowers that they dip in liquid nitrogen they hand out at those elementary school science fairs. With just one drop, something that was so soft and full of color and life can be shattered and spread across the floor in too many pieces to count. One moment our life can just be ebbing and flowing just as expected, and in the next there is nothing but silence. Despite how much control and precision we like to delude ourselves into thinking that we have over our respective lives, everything is a gamble. Everything can topple and flutter away like a house of cards. Everything might be over soon, or it can continue on for years, we have no absolute way of being sure. This uncertainty is what makes life so beautiful. Each moment has its significance, every breath counts, every feeling has its impact, because it could very well be our last.
Bon Iver, I am so ready!
The song fades out with a wonderful arrangement of strings that swell and flow like a pool of water. It’s an idyllic end to a genuinely soothing (albeit a bit quirky) song. If this is what my dude Bon Iver is setting up for us to expect for his long awaited album (f i v e YEARS) I am absolutely ready for this. Give me tracks to play in my car while I’m parked in an empty parking lot at night while I think too hard about life: Bon Iver, I am so ready!