By Georgina Selander
It is a very rare occasion in one’s life that one comes across a ‘piece of music that seems to speak directly to your soul. Listening to the haunting sounds of Bon Iver’s Creature Fear on his album For Emma, Forever Ago was such an occasion for me. It must be said however that every song on this little-known artist’s album takes one through the artist’s journey. Its poetic, otherwordly quality with reams of lyrics reminding us that there are ‘so many ‘territories /Ready to reform /Don’t let it form us’. ‘
Formed in 2007, the group consists of lead vocalist and songwriter, Justin Vernon, Michael Noyce on guitar and McCaughan on drums. The name, Bon Iver, is derived from the French phrase ‘bon hiver’, a greeting meaning ‘good winter’. After the breakup of his previous band, and also the devastating end of a close relationship, Vernon moved from Raleigh in North Carolina to his hometown of Wisconsin.
There he spent an entire Winter in his father’s cabin composing music. Hunter S. Thompson said that the only ones who can know the edge are those who have crossed it and it was in this dark time that Vernon created the poignant and moving sounds of For Emma, Forever Ago. It speaks of course of loss, pain, of our human condition of perpetual loss.
Whilst Vernon had not intended to produce music, a record began to ‘evolve during the time spent in solitude. The album falls into the indie-folk genre, and includes hits such as Creature Fear, Flume and Skinny Love.
The mix of unobtrusive instrumental with haunting lyrics give this album a totally unpretentious air. The modesty of the music speaks for itself. The listener becomes witness to a display of first-rate musical ability that lacks any sense of self-indulgence.
The melodies rise with gentle trepidation and fall with the same quiet pulse. Coupled with Vernon’s breathy, ethereal quality of voice, the music gives the impression of being carried on the wind.
Vernon’s inspiration for the album began with the music. After forming the melody, Vernon listened to the tracks over and over until the syllables of the melody spoke for themselves. It was this process ‘that saw the fruition of tracks that have been used in well-known movies and television shows such as Grey’s Anatomy and Chuck.
Featured singles have included Monster, in which the group teamed up with hip hop superstars Kanye West and Rick Ross.