In between launching a new streaming service, announcing Big Red Machine's debut album, and hosting his Eaux Claires festival in Wisconsin, Bon Iver's Justin Vernon has been collaborating with the modern dance troupe TU Dance on a live performance called Come Through. The score for the project is a "work-in-progress," and those who caught early glimpses of it in Massachusetts a while back came back with shaky phone clips of road-tested Bon Iver demos from live sets past. But a group called MN Original (in conjunction with Twin Cities PBS) very quietly uploaded three professionally recorded cuts from the show earlier this week, and they offer a far better glimpse into the project than we've had before.
"SDIAH," teased as "Shittiest Day In American History" on Twitter in the Spring, is a sparse song, yowled by Vernon over a glimmering keyboard line, embellished by a sax solo. "1867," which a lot of fans figure to be a 22, A Million outtake, is a gentle and impressionistic ballad, built on a clean guitar; the three-and-a-half-minute cut that MN Original uploaded is apparently an "excerpt," but it works nicely as a bridge. The real standout is "Naeem 2," previously called "I Can Hear Crying," which Vernon played at Bonnaroo this year. It wraps itself around the type of heavily syncopated beat that foregrounded 22, AM, and it's essentially one long, cathartic crescendo, Vernon exhaling through the verses before joining a chorus of one. TU Dance turn the whole thing into an interpretive spectacle, so think of these as three really good music videos for three possibly unfinished songs.
The Minneapolis/St Paul run of Come Through is all done, but they're taking the show to LA for one night on August 5. You can get tickets here.
Watch all three videos below.
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UPDATE: An earlier version of this article said that PBS were involved with the release of the clips. It was actually Twin Cities PBS, not PBS national.