Three years ago, Bryce Dessner, the multi-instrumentalist from the National who’s always working on avant-garde side projects, composed a whole album called Music For Wood And Strings. The idea behind the album was that Dessner was composing for chordsticks, a hybrid instrument that basically amounts to an electric guitar played like a hammer dulcimer. Dessner wrote the music, and Sō Percussion, the New York percussion quartet, performed it. And now Dessner has roped some other friends into remaking the song, transforming it into something altogether different.
For “Music For Wood & Strings (Translucent Remake),” Dessner teams up with Justin Vernon and S. Carey, both Bon Iver members and peers of Dessner and his own band. Together, they’ve taken the music from that Sō Percussion album and used it as a thrumming, twinkling backdrop. They’ve written a whole new song over it, and it sounds like a spacier, more warped take on Bon Iver, a band that already makes music that’s plenty warped and spacey. Vernon and Dessner’s twin brother Aaron are apparently making a collaborative album, one that’s supposedly coming out later this summer; maybe it’ll sound something like this.
On the new track, Sō Percussion’s Adam Sliwinski has this to say:
On this new version of the track — we think of it as more than a simple remix — Bryce, Justin and Sean (the latter two, members of Bon Iver) turn the original piece into a compelling background for a beautiful song. We never worked directly with Justin or Sean on the track because our portion is just the first four minutes of our recording. We LOVE what they have done with it, and are honored that musicians from a band that people hold in such high regard wanted to make something with it that is entirely their own.
Listen to the track below, via NPR:
“Music For Wood & Strings (Translucent Remake)” is out now on Brassland.