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For Emma, Forever Ago – Bon Iver

by Aidan Roberts

Legend has it that Justin Vernon ate a lot of venison during the recording of this album, in total isolation at his family’s remote hunting lodge in Northern Wisconsin. Pressing play, a damp acoustic guitar muddles away and Vernon sings “I Am My Mother’s Only Son” in a wind-swept falsetto. The swell gathers throughout Flume and develops into a startling storm, acoustics smashing away, creaks and wails from the hunting cabin saturating the melodic cries of this forlorn, contemplative man. What follows is a very focused songbook of down-tempo brooders. Vernon has seemingly crystallised the hurt of a past relationship and explored it in its naked energy. At times the tone of the record can be a downer, but there is contrast from the campfire tones of Lump Sum to the cinematics of The Wolves, Act I and II, and a clear journey through joy and sorrow, leaving us with the end titles of re: stacks. Very rarely will we come across recordings and music so honest, and subconscious.