|Big Red Machine — Big Red Machine (August 31, 2018)|
Big Red Machine — Big Red Machine (August 31, 2018)Formed: 2018 in Eau Claire, WI
Birth name: Aaron Brooking Dessner
Born: April 23, 1976, United States
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Birth name: Justin DeYarmond Edison Vernon
Born: April 30, 1981, Eau Claire, Wisconsin, United States
Recording Date: March, 2017 ~ May, 2018
✹ April Base, Eau Claire, WI
✹ Long Pond, Hudson Valley, NY
Genre: Indie Singer~Songwriter, Rock, Folk
Album release: August 31, 2018
Record Label: Jagjaguwar
01. Deep Green 4:00
02. Gratitude 5:57
03. Lyla 5:11
04. Air Stryp 2:04
05. Hymnostic 3:03
06. Forest Green 5:49
07. OMDB 7:43
08. People Lullaby 5:23
09. I Won’t Run From It 3:39
10. Melt 4:06
✹ JT Bates Drums
✹ Tony Berg Engineer
✹ Beth Meyers Viola
✹ Phoebe Bridgers Vocals
✹ Andrew Broder Vocals
✹ Greg Calbi Mastering
✹ Brad Cook Bass, Ebo, Electronics, Omnichord, Producer
✹ Monica Davis Violin
✹ Pauline DeLassus Vocals
✹ Aaron Dessner Bass, Bass Pedals, Composer, Drum Machine, Guitar (Ac.), Guitar (El.), Guitar (Nashville), Mellotron, Pedals, Piano, Producer
✹ Bryce Dessner Orchestration
✹ Bryan Devendorf Drum Machine
✹ Lisa Hannigan Vocals
✹ Steve Hassett Vocals
✹ Andrew Janns Cello
✹ Jonathan Low Engineer, Mastering, Mixing, Producer
✹ James McAlister Electronic Percussion
✹ Chris Messina Engineer, Producer
✹ Rob Moose Orchestration, Viola, Violin
✹ Richard Reed Parry Vocals
✹ Zoë Randell Vocals
✹ Ben Russell Violin
✹ Kate Stables Vocals
✹ Camilla Staveley~Taylor Vocals
✹ Emily Staveley~Taylor Vocals
✹ Jessica Staveley~Taylor Vocals
✹ Andi Toma Electronics
✹ Justin Vernon Composer, Electronics, Guitar (Baritone), Guitar (Bass), Guitar (El.), Producer, Vocals
✹ Jan Werner Electronics
AllMusic Review by Marcy Donelson; Score: ***½
✹ Though the seeds of Big Red Machine were planted in 2008, when the National’s Aaron Dessner sent Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon an instrumental song sketch of the same name, the project’s self~titled debut was compiled over the two years leading up to its release in August of 2018. It arrives after Bon Iver’s surprising 22, A Million (2016), which saw the indie folk icon incorporating keyboards, samples, and manipulated sounds, and the National’s Sleep Well Beast (2017), which also employed electronics as part of its expansive sonic scheme. Using dozens of instruments — including guitars, programmed and live drums, strings, portable synthesizers, and sampling and looping devices — Big Red Machine’s off~kilter soundscape was designed by Dessner, with Vernon adding impressionistic lyrics and wide~ranging vocal lines. Among the album’s numerous guests are prior National collaborators such as Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry, keyboardist Nick Lloyd, and drummer James McAlister, as well as the National’s Bryan Devendorf. Other singers, brass players, and even a throat whistler are also in play in what are ultimately quietly dramatic tracks. The opener, „Deep Green,“ for instance, spotlights Vernon’s cryptic remembrance with only skittering drums and electric guitar interjections in the foreground, while eerie backing vocals, keyboard instruments, and glitchy sound effects are recessed. Later, „Lyla“ blends soul, hip~hop, rock, and indie electronica on a track that incorporates R2~D2~like blips as well as Rob Moose’s violin and viola. (Phoebe Bridgers is among the background singers on the track.) „Hymnostic“ is more anthemic and rousing, while „People Lullaby“ is relatively sparse and circular by design. It may come as no surprise after listening that the songs were originally constructed as blueprints for improvised live performances with rotating collaborators at festivals in 2017; the songs have an organic, impromptu character to them, even despite the subtle and not~so~subtle intricacy of their arrangements. More a headphones~type album than a radio~friendly one, what emerges are still songs before compositions or productions, though they may appeal to the more explorative indie rockers.
by Jade, August 27, 2018
✹ „The best metaphor that I can think of is that it’s a platform that acts as like a garden, where creative seeds that you plant — with anyone you want to collaborate with — can grow. Where the emphasis is not on the finished, produced marketed product, but on process and showing a three dimensional context.“ Aaron Dessner, multi~instrumentalist for The National, may have been talking to Billboard about the P~E~O~P~L~E music streaming platform he created with Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, but he could have just as easily been talking about their joint musical venture, Big Red Machine.
✹ The collaborative brain child of Vernon and Dessner invites us to be a fly on the wall of experimental creation. The meditative and repetitive songs developed during jam sessions in Berlin are part of the duo’s push to break the status quo of the music industry. „Deep Green“ flickers like a firefly, guitars and computer glitches sparking and snapping with light thru a droning piano and hummingbird quick drum machine. An organic and almost country song „I Won’t Run From It“ will bring Bon Iver fans back to the early days, with the left turn of Vernon singing in his low tenor without any computer enhancements. Balancing the sounds of The National and Bon Iver, "Gratitude" is an EP standout. It is one part prayer, one part meditation, it lulls and invigorates in equal measure.
✹ It’s rare look into the mind of two creative artists as they stretch and play with the boundaries others have created around their sound. But, with their Eaux Claires festival in Wisconsin, People festival in Germany, and the new music collaboration platform, expect more output from these artists as they welcome other artists to break free of the normal music business machinery.
✹ Aaron Dessner, Justin Vernon, Bryce Dessner, Bradley Cook, JT Bates, Julien Baker, Chastity Brown, Gordi.
✹ Big Red Machine, the project from Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and the National’s Aaron Dessner, released their eponymous debut LP today. Alongside the album, they’ve unveiled new videos for three tracks from the record: “Gratitude,” “Forest Green,” and “I Won’t Run From It.” The visuals were directed by Eric Timothy Carlson and Aaron Anderson, and they feature colorful layers of graphics, text, and images.
ARI SHAPIRO. August 31, 2018
✹ Justin Vernon and Aaron Dessner are music industry veterans by now: Vernon has been recording and performing as Bon Iver since the mid~2000s, Dessner as part of The National since the late ‘90s. Along the way, both have had many side projects — and about a decade ago, as part of a benefit album, the two collaborated on a song called „Big Red Machine.“
✹ Now they’ve extended that collaboration into a new band and full~length album, also called Big Red Machine — and the scale of this team~up extends far beyond the two of them, incorporating friends, famous musicians and unknown artists all pitching in on a new platform designed to encourage collaboration.
✹ „This is all part of something we call People, a large collective and community of artists that’s been collaborating for a long time — which is a way to sort of work together and publish music that’s sort of outside of the traditional marketing bottleneck,“ Dessner explains. „Big Red Machine is really a community effort: I guess it involves almost 30 musicians. It does come out of our friendship, but it’s really something that is deeply collaborative.“
✹ Dessner and Vernon joined NPR’s Ari Shapiro from a People event in Berlin to explain how Big Red Machine was constructed, and why it often felt best to leave the songs sounding a tiny bit unfinished. Hear their conversation at the audio link, and read on for an edited transcript.
Ari Shapiro: The song „Lyla“ has this thickly layered background of sounds: percussion, strings, bleeps and scratches. Can you tell me how this came together?
Vernon: It started with Aaron making a lot of beats on his iPhone on tour. On that song specifically, there were just ideas that we had: „We want this person to play on this section — I think they would really bring their heart and individuality to this part of the song.“ Usually we have them record too much stuff, and then we kind of edit it down and mix it all in.
Dessner: It’s really coming from this place of making music from a communal standpoint, where we weren’t trying to be the auteurs of anything. We were really kind of reaching out and embracing this process, leaving the songs open to possibility and interpretation, and kind of intentionally not finishing them. So that’s why, I think, the record has that kind of wilder, unfinished, in~process feeling. And that’s a lot of this People energy that we’re trying to encourage.
Shapiro: Is there a tension between the desire to create something that’s collaborative and the fact that everybody knows Bon Iver and The National? Some of these other musicians might not be as well recognized, and might kind of feel like they’re operating in your shadow a little bit.
Vernon: I can speak to that. It’s the opposite when we’re here. I’m walking around just like everyone else, trying to do as much music as I physically can because that's my dream, that's my love. This is about giving people a different way to think, allowing them to see things in new ways where it’s not about who’s successful or who’s the most popular or who made the most money or something. None of those things really play here. It has nothing to do with why we started playing music in the first place, and [is] very much a reaction to some of the things that have, frankly, made me and Aaron very uncomfortable in the years we’ve been so~called professional musicians.
Shapiro: I should explain — you talked about being „here“ — we are speaking to the two of you in Berlin, where you’ve convened this gathering of musicians who might have collaborated virtually through this platform you’ve called People, but now this is an in~person meeting.
Vernon: Yes. And to be fair, or just fact check, we helped convene some of these people, but the community is so large now, there’s no figureheads anymore. There’s plenty of people here that I’ve never met or heard of, and now I’m starting new friendships with them as well. We just really feel like we’re all in the mixing pot together.
Shapiro: But is that a luxury that the two of you have, having been so successful already?
Vernon: I know plenty of people who you might not be able to say are successful in the same way that you’re saying me and Aaron are — however, they might be more satisfied on a daily basis than I ever am, because they’ve been able to navigate pressures and stay in their own cut. Me and Aaron, people know who we are and stuff, and frankly that’s not way either one of us ever got into this business — and it’s distracting. People start telling you you’re really cool, and you get really tired of yourself after a while. So I really would mitigate that term, „success,“ in almost every way.
Shapiro: Was it difficult to decide when these songs were done?
Dessner: It was a little bit difficult to decide when they were done from the point of view of not wanting to finish them, and the actual sound world of them. We kind of liked the rawness of it, and how it felt when we were just making stuff and not really thinking about it. So as you start to mix something and master it, and some of those finishing elements that are part of a traditional process, they felt a little alien to this record.
Shapiro: Just to help us understand what „rawness“ sounds like in terms of the music we’re listening to, is there a moment in a song that you can point to that might have been finished in a different way, in a prettier way, if you had been making a different kind of album?
Dessner: The song „Hymnostic“ is kind of a gospel song, and that song is really fun to sing with as many people as possible. And anyone can sing it, you know?
Vernon: I think „Hymnostic“ could have been done with fiddles and banjos, and it’d almost be better for that song. But we wanted to stick the song on there, so we kind of dressed it up to stand alongside its brothers and sisters, if you will.
Shapiro: Does the fact that this was such a collective process involving so many different people make it different to perform live, or to tour with it?
Dessner: I think the idea is that every time we perform Big Red Machine music it should be different somehow — like, different people, different songs maybe, definitely different versions of the songs. We kind of want to preserve that feeling of possibility. It’s less of a band and more of a collection of music that can be conformed. That makes it more exciting, I think. ✹ https://www.npr.org/
(I will lay laid open … I will lay laid open
I do it cause I’m a family man )
I met her at a hard grave
a heat wave hand~shake way
but the Carmex stayed
come back, do Not answer the door
And we met up like a ski team
10 ft out ….
With a cane man’s clout
With the beat in now
And the walls turned in
and your chest came out
Cause you weren’t too scared
not amounting to your mother or your father
its the memory of future gets three
It’s the passing into ashes thats the ground that you eat
and you’ll know well need a minute to repair
So when you teach em better teach em to share
So when they standing by the River, you want to say:
“you panicked on me”
We met up at the high line
Rose bark birch
And the two stich hurt
|Big Red Machine — Big Red Machine (August 31, 2018)|