On Thursday morning, Bon Iver released two new tracks and announced that their fourth album i,i will come out on August 30th on Jagjaguwar. An extensive press release on boniver.org indicates that i,i will feature thirteen tracks — the most of any Bon Iver release to date — and will “complete a cycle: from the winter of For Emma, Forever Ago came the frenetic spring of Bon Iver, Bon Iver, and the unhinged summer of 22, A Million. Now, fall arrives early with i,i.”
According to the announcement, the experimental folk group recorded their new material at their longtime home April Base Studios in Eau Claire, WI, as well as at Sonic Ranch in Tornillo, TX — located along the Rio Grande and noted as the world largest residential studio complex. Bon Iver frontperson Justin Vernon noted that the new album “feels very much like the most adult record, the most complete. […] It feels like when you get through all this life, when the sun starts to set, and what happens is you start gaining perspective. And then you can put that perspective into more honest, generous work.”
The two new tracks, “Jelmore” and “Faith”, which follow after “Hey Ma” and “U (Man Like)” last month, include contributions from many prominent musicians in Bon Iver’s circle: Francis Starlite (Francis and the Lights), Buddy Ross (Frank Ocean, Vampire Weekend), Bryce Dessner (The National) with Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Rob Moose (Phoebe Bridgers), and Camilla Staveley-Taylor (The Staves). “Faith” features an acoustic guitar foundation more robust than any of the band’s tracks in recent memory, along with a barrage of fuzz-washed drums like those on “Hey Ma”, while “Jelmore” thrives on beatless synth loops that ebb and flow from start to finish. Both tracks find Vernon delivering lyrics in his gruff baritone, which has grown more prevalent in Bon Iver’s recent output and emerged as a striking counterpoint to his well-known falsetto (which is still in peak form throughout much of “Faith”).
The band’s online announcement also describes changes to their lineup that have occurred since releasing 22, A Million in 2016: along with the past Bon Iver members Vernon, Sean Carey (S. Carey), Matthew McCaughan, Michael Lewis and Andrew Fitzpatrick, the live lineup for the upcoming tour will include Jenn Wasner (Wye Oak, Flock of Dimes) — previous members Rob Moose, Michael Noyce, Reggie Pace, Colin Stetson and CJ Camerieri evidently will not take part in this tour. Still, Vernon made sure to thank Noyce and a whole host of other musicians in a series of tweets on his @blobtower account Thursday morning. Bruce Hornsby, James Blake, Velvet Negroni and even more others have contributed to i,i, making for the largest group of collaborators Bon Iver has ever involved on any of their projects.
Earlier this summer, the band announced fall tour dates with Indigo Girls, Sharon Van Etten, Yo La Tengo and Feist, including an October 10th show at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center with Feist. Find the videos for their new tracks “Faith” and “Jelmore” below, as well as the full track list for i,i. explore all the enigmatic visual art associated with the new album at icommai.com.
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