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MATT SWEENEY & BONNIE 'PRINCE' BILLY

Matt Sweeney & Bonnie 'Prince' Billy

Superwolves

    Where once was Superwolf, now roam Superwolves, the new album and demon spawn of Matt Sweeney and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy

    The songs that make up Superwolves, the duo’s second album and first since 2005’s Superwolf, go boldly into undreamed-of places, and go deep, as Matt and Bonny take all the musics they know to make songs that penetrate. In classic Garcia-Hunter style, Sweeney and the ‘Prince’ first work separately, finding a path to each other in their solitary imaginings. Bonnie lyric sets delivered to Matt spark Sweeney’s guitar brain; chords and a melody are shaped, recorded fast and loose and sent back to the Prince, then the two parties meet up to sing, stitch, strengthen and finally perform them together in front of a small unsuspecting audience. Then new sets of lyrics are sent, animated and played in a high wire style until the shared songs and experiences are ready to commit to record. This is just the beginning of their fusion process, as words imply vocalizations to counter and support, and guitar lines suggest harmonic fields to subtly push into. In this process, a new creature grows out of the old one. In this name of this partnership, the guitar shares an open and fluid space with the vocals, the voices sing with the guitars—every moment in the life of Superwolves is an extravaganza, guided only by its need.

    “The chemistry comes from lives, lived separately, in which music is crucial sustenance. We listen with gratitude and awe, knowing that we belong in there. We construct our dream selves with the faith that these selves will have their chance at life. We know what we are capable of doing and just need each other’s support to bring the imagined languages to life.” — Will Oldham

    “I love the challenge to write melodies for Will to sing. Struggle with that challenge too. Knowing that Will’s voice will elevate the melody makes me reach higher and dig deeper for the tune. Makes me want to match it with a guitar part that holds his voice like a chalice holds wine (or blood, or whatever is needed to live the best life). I also love singing harmonies and responses to this voice of his.” — Matt Sweeney

    As far as this record, as in when and how it came together, the two man crew started working on it five years ago. The first actual session, however, went down about a year ago at Brooklyn’s Strange Weather and the next took place at the Butcher Shoppe in Nashville. Sweeney oversaw the mixing of the Brooklyn sessions with Oldham overseeing the Nashville mixes. On the album, Sweeney sings harmonies along, with, and around his favorite singer, and plays all electric, acoustic, and bass guitars, joined in places by David Ferguson on stand-up bass, Mike Coltun on electric bass, Mdou Moctar on electric lead, Ahmoudou Madassane on rhythm guitar, Souleyman Ibrahim, Ryan Sawyer and Peter Townsend on drums and Mike Rojas on keys. The Bonnie ‘Prince’ sings. Does he ever. And Superwolves rules over all.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: This is a perfect collaborative effort from Sweeney & Oldham here, offsetting BPB's sometimes saccharine vocal style with Sweeney's brilliantly dynamic guitar playing. There are moments of stunning minimalistic bliss ('Resist The Urge') or more psychedelic grooving force ('Hall Of Death') but this is a constantly confounding and rewarding listen.

    TRACK LISTING

    1. Make Worry For Me
    2. Good To My Girls
    3. God Is Waiting
    4. Hall Of Death
    5. Shorty’s Ark
    6. I Am A Youth Inclined To Ramble
    7. My Popsicle
    8. Watch What Happens
    9. Resist The Urge
    10. There Must Be A Someone
    11. My Blue Suit
    12. My Body Is My Own
    13. You Can Regret What You Have Done
    14. Not Fooling

    Matt Sweeney & Bonnie 'Prince' Billy

    Superwolf

      The first full-length collaboration between two of indie rock's most ubiquitous figures, "Superwolf" finds wandering troubadour Bonnie Prince Billy and guitarist Matt Sweeney (formerly of Chavez and Zwan) hitting yet another musical plateau. While the terrain explored on "Superwolf" is in keeping with past Bonnie Prince Billy releases (most directly 1998's somber, haunting "I See A Darkness" and 2003's hushed, tender "Master And Everyone"), it's surprising to learn that Sweeney is credited as the sole writer of the album's music (with Oldham handling the lyrics). From soft acoustic ballads ("Only Someone Running") to plaintive sing-alongs ("Lift Us Up") to epic tales of heartbreak ("Blood Embrace"), "Superwolf" is technically a stripped-down affair, yet its impact is far-reaching and expansive. Album opener "My Home Is the Sea" perfectly captures the spirit of the project, beginning softly, but building to an electrifying climax of sloppy guitar virtuosity. With "Superwolf", Oldham and Sweeney have made an album that plays to both artists' strengths.


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