17 February 2012

Audiovisual Bliss

This is what pure pianistic brilliance looks like. Scroll down to listen to one
of the most amazing musical sessions in history (seriously, it is that amazing).

As a general rule of musical appreciation, I tend to enjoy most new videos from my favored musicians. However, after a handful of viewings, I tend to tire of the usually formulaic visual distractions from the audibly pleasant music. Too often, the videos are blasé and the music merely duplicative of the album recordings (there are notable exceptions of course -- including damn near anything directed by Spike Jonze).

Far more than a routine industry-approved music video, the most recent video posted on the band's YouTube channel is the new benchmark by which all others should be measured. Just shy of 25 minutes, the intimate audiovisual adventure features Bon Iver frontman (and Wisconsin native) Justin Vernon and drummer Sean Carey (another fine Wisconsinite) performing stripped-down versions of five songs. Undoubtedly the pinnacle of the dueling pianos concept, the session was recorded at AIR Studio's Lyndhurst Hall in London last October. Originally a church and missionary school designed in 1880 by the great Victorian architect Alfred Waterhouse (the designer of London's Natural History Museum among various other notable structures throughout the United Kingdom), Lyndhurst Hall offers an acoustical environment that Vernon and Carey fully exploit as they powerfully finesse their way through a truly amazing set. So genuine and inviting a performance, it is easy to become fully immersed in the viewing experience. Lyndhurst's voluminous 300m² hexagonal recording space is brought alive by a combination of wide-angle and slowly panning, closely cropped camera work. The graceful and attentive videography pairs so well with the duo's skillful keystrokes and their remarkably powerful and emotionally-rich voices, viewers are likely to be whisked away to London, at least for a few minutes of audiovisual bliss. 

So, put on your headphones and prepare to be amazed. This heartfelt session literally gave me goosebumps and a sort of all-consuming euphoria. So inspired, I'm currently reserving time in the piano studio (not quite as acoustically grand as Lyndhurst, but certainly more suitable for my musical capabilities).

Set List:
1. Hinnom, TX
2. Wash.
3. I Can't Make You Love Me
4. Babys
5. Beth/Rest