Colin Stetson
New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light


4.0
excellent

Review

by Jonny Hunter CONTRIBUTOR (103 Reviews)
April 30th, 2013 | 32 replies | 4,166 views


Release Date: 04/30/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Three volumes in and we're still not quite sure how he's even making these sounds in the first place.

It seems to be Colin Stetson’s sole duty on this world to utterly destroy the commonly held concept of a saxophone. The pre-Stetson picture would be one of a brass instrument with a couple dozen button things to press; possibly even with a few scratches if you’ve seen your fair share. You know how it sounds, for the most part, and what type of music it plays. You might also have arrived on the idea of saxophones being the perfect instrument to play if soulful, moonlight silhouettes were all that mattered. Post-Stetson, the image is muddled somewhat, mainly due to its utter disintegration as pieces are scattered in related concepts no one dared to suggest before. The idea of saxophones as percussion; its use in place of vocals; its place as the moody reflection of other music... if it didn’t all work it would not be so confusing. Nevertheless, the second volume of New History Warfare managed to cause a bit of a stir in music circles not often associated with jazz or experimental music. In part, this was due to Colin’s previous associations with the likes of Tom Waits, Arcade Fire and Godspeed You! Black Emperor, but otherwise the success owes itself to his utterly bizarre and fascinating style of playing.

Vol. 3 is far from a surprising leap from Vol. 2 and Vol. 1: sticking close to the never ending barrage of arpeggios and valve-percussion which formed the bulk of those two albums. The technical aspect to his performance -circular breathing, chiefly- is no less captivating here, and it’s clear Colin has perfected new ways to push the most out of his instrument. This added variation in timbre and effect is a subtle improvement on an already iconic sound, and in many parts on the album he uses this to make his instrument seem more human than ever. For example, in the frenzied tempo of “Hunted” his saxophone whines and squeals in something between pain and despair, creating a hurried cry for help of a track in a very “how the hell is he making those sounds?” way.

By far the most surprising addition is Justin Vernon (Bon Iver, to you and me), who lends his voice to a sizable chunk of Vol. 3. His sickly-sweet falsetto works surprisingly well as something for Colin to play around, and it introduces an increased soulful element to the album’s palette. More surprising still is Vernon’s departure from this signature falsetto into both his regular voice in gospel cover “What Are They Doing in Heaven Today?” and death metal-esque growls in the heavy and aggressive “Brute.” His efforts don’t quite match those by Laurie Anderson and Shara Worden in Vol. 2, though they’re a welcome addition nonetheless, if only to add spice to the formula.

The album’s definitely a Colin-centred affair however, and Vernon’s contributions remain sidenotes in comparison to the 15-minute epic of a title track “To See More Light.” With it, Colin balances a sense of foreboding with ever increasing tempo, intensity and an obvious joy of playing. It’s by far and away the highlight of an already brilliant album, although this does place it in opposition of the few moments Colin lets his guard down and relaxes into what’s now a familiar formula. However, while Vol. 3 may not be quite as shocking as the two preceding it, the progression and perfection of his sound makes it no less excellent than Vol. 2, and no less worthy of its success.



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user ratings (90)
Chart.
3.8
excellent
other reviews of this album
Jacob R. STAFF (3.9)
The light at the end of Colin Stetson's proverbial tunnel...


Comments:Add a Comment 
StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
April 30th 2013



2714 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Guess where: http://www.muzikdizcovery.com/



Omaha
Staff Reviewer
April 30th 2013



10041 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

Ooh cool, I be reviewing this too

FelixCulpa
April 30th 2013



1237 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Album is gooood. I need to listen to Vol.2 sometime soon. Also if you want to listen to another album where a traditional instruments get transformed to make some sounds you wouldn't have guessed it could; listen to Helen Money's Arriving Angels. She turns the cello into something else.

MrElmo
April 30th 2013



1950 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Amazing live musician (got to hear the title track live and it blew my head off) Oh and superb album, I prefer it to the previous one so It'll probably end up being a 4.5 in my book. Review is spot on so take the imaginary pos

StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
April 30th 2013



2714 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"Ooh cool, I be reviewing this too"

Oh it's on motherfucker! (and there goes my feature :p )

IHeardThat
April 30th 2013



77 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Awesome review. I loved Vol.2, but I thought the vocals detracted from the overall album. I'm anxious to see how this works with Vernon's voice. Pos'd. Wait, how do we pos? Is that a thing anymore?

MisterTornado
Contributing Reviewer
April 30th 2013



4507 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

rules

Havey
April 30th 2013



9641 Comments


hell yah

scissorlocked
April 30th 2013



3509 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

dope

Digging: Leon Vynehall - Music For The Uninvited

StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
April 30th 2013



2714 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"Wait, how do we pos? Is that a thing anymore?"

No pos'ing contribs or staff I'm afraid - our egos are already far too big.

SpritzSpritz
April 30th 2013



527 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i still like Vol. II better (it's near perfect in my opinion), but this is fantastic. brute is insane, and the title track is incredible.

StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
April 30th 2013



2714 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

While I like Brute, I don't see it as a highlight - but that may be my downtempo/ambient tendencies misbehaving themselves.

Lambda
April 30th 2013



2417 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Had no idea this was coming out. I loved Volume 2, gonna check this out for sure.

Digging: Dog Fashion Disco - Adultery

LilLioness
April 30th 2013



2496 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Looking forward to your review, Jacob.

Havey
April 30th 2013



9641 Comments


damn this isn't getting nearly as much hype as Vol. II got

StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
April 30th 2013



2714 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Bad timing, maybe (BoC/Daft Punk/The National all doing shit at once)

CrisStyles
April 30th 2013



767 Comments


I'm amazed that those are Vernon's vocals on Brute.

Wolfhorde
May 3rd 2013



12800 Comments


Damn, I knew a Sax could be versatile but damn.

MrElmo
May 3rd 2013



1950 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This just makes want to earn a sax and improvise all night long under the moon...

Wolfhorde
May 3rd 2013



12800 Comments


Somebody wanna tell me how this compares to Vol. 2? 'Cause I'm digging this quite a notch so far.



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