Bon Iver – 10 d E A T h b R E a s T ⚄ ⚄ (Extended Version) (Singles Going Steady)

This is full-on dystopian folk music, with lyrical aphasia and a clone army of distorted vocal tracks.

Tanner Smith: “10dEATthbreast” is Justin Vernon’s long-awaited response to his Yeezus collaborations: by overlaying filtered chants on top of the buzzed out low-end and clattering percussion, he creates something altogether more forceful and propulsive than any song on Bon Iver’s first two records. And yet, in the song’s second minute, he leads this mini-epic into a beautiful, spacious crescendo that contains all the searching intimacy you’ve come to expect from his work. A truly futuristic assemblage, the song feels wholly singular in the current indie climate. Along with the other advance single, “22 (OVER S∞∞N)”, “10dEAThbREast” depicts a mercurial artist who is continually pushing himself and his music into unknown territories. [9/10]

Adriane Pontecorvo: Jarring and bizarre, Bon Iver’s trek into electronics is fearless. This is full-on dystopian folk music, with lyrical aphasia and a clone army of distorted vocal tracks. It’s not quite alien; the words and sentiments you can barely translate through the layers of saxophones and cyborg sounds are distinctly human. There are times it veers into rough territory, getting a little carried away with its own eccentricities and seeing how far it can push the envelope, but it admirably embraces experimentation, and there are no half-measures here. [7/10]

Jared Skinner: Justin Vernon’s beloved Bon Iver project returns after a five-year hiatus and it sounds like Vernon and company are continuing to forge ahead into new sonic territory. Opening with a stomping, electronic drum beat, an atypical style for Bon Iver, the song traverses through layers of distorted and pulsing synths, disembodied auto-tuned vocals, and a wailing brass section that culminates into something oddly and fiercely beautiful. Vernon’s lyrics, as always, evoke haunting and powerful images that summon emotions that can only be best understood by Vernon himself, but have as profound an effect on the listener, solidifying the claims of Vernon’s status as a true poet and visionary. For all of us that were not in attendance at Vernon’s Eaux Claires Festival this month, we will anxiously await Bon Iver’s very promising new album 22, A Million in September. [8/10]

Andrew Paschal: Is that the sound of someone chewing mixed somewhere into that beat? In any case, structure is clearly not what Bon Iver is going for in this one: the song hints at melodies here and there before abandoning them for a different direction. At the part (I can’t say “verse”) immediately following the line “well I’ll wrap you up”, it briefly seems that things may finally come together, but this too proves to be another dead end in Bon Iver’s maze. While the term “fuckified” has apparently existed since at least 2008 according to Urban Dictionary, I expect it to see much more traffic now in what is perhaps the song’s greatest contribution. An intriguing if somewhat unsatisfying experiment. [6/10]

Paul Carr: I had no idea what to expect from this after their prolonged absence and Vernon’s anointment by Kanye. I don’t think anyone would have expected this! The rumbling beats kick off the song like thunder coming over the hills. Vernon’s voice appears almost unrecognisable under thick tiers of vocal effects. All the instruments are heavily disguised under a sheen of heavy production. This makes it all the more startling when the production retreats and vernon’s voice shifts to the fore. It’s subtle but breathtaking. This is a band at the height of their craft. [9/10]

Max Totsky: It’s very hard to know quite what to make of the new Bon Iver material. In a way, it all seems a bit eager, embracing song titles that would give Aphex Twin a run for his money and sounding like it was made by someone who’s been listening to a little bit too much Oneohtrix Point Never. However, if Bon Iver’s version of Kid A is as gripping as this, I’m sold. Justin Vernon has been exhibiting his versatility ever since he showed up on Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, showing that his occasionally Auto-tuned high-pitched emotional coo can sound as comfortable over hip-hop production as lo-fi folk. This song basically brings that potential to his own music, with a beat that sounds like it is going to crumble at that hands of its own distortion and every time a pitch-shifted vocal sample surfaces, it feels like the backdrop is being splattered with glow-in-the-dark paint. Although this type of instrumental is far from the norm for a project as historically ornate as Bon Iver, Vernon’s vocals still take on that familiar warmth as he spouts lyrics that could very easily have taken a page from Kid A’s textbook and have been formed from random newspaper clippings (“I’ve been sleeping in a stable, mate/not gonna do you no favors”). Whatever the influence was, it’s great to hear Bon Iver arrive at a freakishly new sound that doesn’t sacrifice any of their old splendor. [8/10]

William Sutton: “10dEATthbreast” marks the highly anticipated return of Bon Iver. The clattering and corrosive electronica of the track is in stark contrast with the hushed melancholy of For Emma, Forever Ago and the rich, layered soundscapes of their sophomore, self titled album. This continued experimentation has always challenged listeners and they have rarely followed trends, although there are clearer precedents to this release, including Justin Vernon’s work with Kanye West. Across all Bon Iver’s output, what has always remained constant is Vernon’s beautiful and affecting vocal delivery. On this track the vocals are often put through auto tune and effectors but Vernon’s rich tone is still there to be celebrated through slightly abstract lyricism and “10dEATthbreast” marks a welcome return for Vernon and co. [8/10]

Chad Miller: Definitely didn’t see this coming from Bon Iver though his work with James Blake definitely acts as a precursor to this piece. Anyways, I appreciate the experimental nature of the song, but I don’t think it’s been polished quite enough in some areas. The percussion reminded me a lot of something you’d hear from Björk or like Joni Mitchell’s “The Jungle Line”, but I think it could have been given a crisper sound. The vocals are surprisingly very fitting for the plethora of edits placed on them though, and they allow the harmonies to really shine. [7/10]

Scott Zuppardo: Justin Vernon’s back with a fuzzed up distorted disco ditty that’s experimentally intuit complete with horns and a bassline drunk on bubbly. [8/10]

Christopher Laird: It starts out glitchy and uncomfortable and just doesn’t chill. Actually, if it wasn’t for the beauty of the voice and the bright warmth of the production, this song may make my stomach turn. As it is, it is an odd form of relaxing. It’s as if you see your old friend on Halloween and don’t recognize them at first. But once you recognize that old familiar voice, you’re all in. [7/10]

Chris Ingalls: I’m not enough of a Bon Iver expert to compare this to anything else Justin Vernon has done, but from what I can understand, the boy appears to have lost his damn mind. I mean, not really, but with the odd song titles and artwork on the upcoming album (22, A Million) combined with the overmodulated, synth-addled experimentalism of this track, it’s clear that he’s moving on to different terrritory this time around. Is has the potential to be a album-length experiment that grows tiresome after a couple of songs, but this remix, taken by itself, is an interesting diversion. [7/10]

Bon Iver’s 22, A Million releases September 30th via Jagjaguwar.

SCORE: 7.64