Back in 2005, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, the oblique folk-music enigma otherwise known as Will Oldham, teamed up with Chavez frontman Matt Sweeney for the ragged and beautiful Superwolf — quite possibly the best album that either Oldham or Sweeney has been involved with. “Beast For Thee,” a strange and layered ballad, was one of that LP’s many highlights. And today, Oldham has shared a very different version of “Beast For Thee.”
Oldham has just announced a new album, When We Are Inhuman, that he made with the National’s Bryce Dessner and the contemporary classical ensemble Eighth Blackbird. The new album, out later this summer, comes out of an Oldham performance at Dessner’s MusicNOW Festival in Cincinnati. It’ll include new Eighth Blackbird arrangements of Oldham’s, as well as a live performance of Julius Eastman’s “Stay On It” and movements from Dessner’s classical series Murder Ballades.
The new version of “Beast For Thee” is a stark contrast from the original. Rather than warm, intuitive guitars and organ-hums, we get tingly, off-kilter string arrangements and the sharp, crystalline sounds of what may be a xylophone. But this new version is also, in its own way, beautiful. Below, listen to the new “Beast For Thee” and the 2005 original, and check out the tracklist for When We Are Inhuman.
01 “Stay On It”
02 “New Partner”
03 “Beast For Thee”
04 “Down In The Willow Garden”
05 “One With The Birds”
06 “Banks Of Red Roses”
07 “Underneath The Floorboard”
08 “When Thy Song”
When We Are Inhuman is out 8/30 on 37d03d.