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"The resulting sound is complex. It's thin and full, sharp and malleable, hazy and clear." - Pitchfork on Music for Wood & Strings
The album Music for Wood and Strings was first released in 2015—performed by So Percussion and composed by multiple Grammy winner Bryce Dessner. It was written for & performed on custom instruments built by Aron Sanchez from Buke and Gase. Upon release the record was Billboard's "Hot Shot Debut" in classical music. But the story of this music continues....
Bon Iver members Justin Vernon and S. Carey have remade Music for Wood and Strings as a warm, emotionally evocative ballad featuring a new lyric by Carey and Vernon's signature ghostly vocalizations, made famous on Bon Iver's albums & Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. We're debuting this new video for the track ahead of the upcoming edition of Eaux Claires festival — happening July 6+7, 2018.
This year's edition has released no official artist bill. When the 2016 edition of the festival was nearing, the line-up was announced via a cassette mailed to ticket buyers & Justin Vernon celebrated the "tradition of announcing the festival lineup in a way that embodies the oddness of what can happen when we splatter the palette with a multitude of colors, then frame it in curiosity." To be clear: we are pretty sure So Percussion are NOT performing at the 2018 edition. But we think this audio-visual chainletter is a perfect encapsulation of the festival's 'game-of-telephone' style world of collaboration & reinvention.
So Percussion's Adam Sliwinski writes of this collaboration:
"The core of this track with Justin Vernon and Sean Carey (aka S. Carey) is our collaboration with Bryce Dessner on Music for Wood and Strings whose story began in 2013. The instruments we use on that piece—wholly conceived and invented by Bryce and built by Aron Sanchez—are called 'chordsticks.' Chordsticks are a hybrid instrument which cross the sound properties of an electric guitar with the playing action of hammered dulcimers. In order to write any of this music, Bryce first had to commission the instruments from Aron. Once he had a few built, he brought them to us to discover what they could do."
" Music for Wood and Strings grew out of Bryce watching us play the chordsticks and then imagining what he could do with our skills and strengths. He decided that playing string instruments didn't prevent us from still playing intricate rhythmic patterns! Aside from one string on the bass instrument, none of the chordsticks have frets - each chord is fixed and the musical texture is achieved by bouncing notes around the ensemble. We play them with plain #2 pencils, which started as placeholder beaters but ended up doing the job well."
"Even thought it is an abstract & entirely instrumental piece, 'Music for Wood and Strings' has proven to be one of our most popular and appealing works."
"On this new version of the track—we think of it as more than a simple remix—Bryce, Justin and Sean (the latter two, both members of Bon Iver) turn the original piece into a compelling background for a beautiful song. We never worked directly with Justin or Sean on the track, because our portion is just the first four minutes of our recording. We LOVE what they have done with it, and are honored that musicians from a band that people hold in such high regard wanted to make something with it that is entirely their own."
"The chains of collaboration & community that led to this song cover a lot of ground: Some of the members of So Percussion have known Bryce since his days studying music at Yale—Bryce knows Aron Sanchez from his band Buke and Gase who record for Bryce's record label Brassland—and we've since become collaborators with Buke and Gase and recently cut an album with them (yet unreleased). Finally, Bryce knows the Bon Iver folks from his travels with his indie rock band The National, whom we in So Percussion have *also* collaborated with. (You can hear flashes of us on their Grammy winning record Sleep Well Beast) "
"This is a simple song, but the family tree that led to it arises from very rich soil."