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Fundamentally Sound

University of Wisconsin - Madison

Holocene - Single (2016)


Review By Dom Otto Asís

August 9, 2016

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Dom Otto Asís

I have always admired arrangers who can tell the story of a song with painfully repetitive chord patterns by avoiding repetition. With Holocene, because of the song's sad lyrics, I find myself listening to the song in separate instances, when my mood is open to this kind of music. Fundamentally Sound's presentation of Bon Iver's Holocene gives us the expected emotional effect — melancholic and deep.

Production-wise, Holocene is not a direct copy of the original version. Which, as far as I can imagine, could have been arranged with an infinite amount of bell tones. There are a couple of issues that I'd like to focus on, especially in the intro. The arrangement would have been better if it started with a subtle syllable like "oooh". The "dm dm" after "Someway, baby, it's part of me, apart from me" ruins the lyric value when it is panned at the center together with the main vocals. It appears as though "dm dm" is part of the lyrics. Also, there are blatant consonant pops of "B"s and "P"s in the trio, which sounds a bit forced. However, arranger Lee Stovall's decision to have it sung by a trio instead of a solo helps in the clear delivery of the message.

The best part of the track is when the bass, vocal percussionist, and the bell tones accompany the trio. In the last stanza, the ethereal effects of dissonance and jarring notes in the background choir takes the listener to a majestic state. The group's musicality is clearly advanced, perfectly executing such a complex chord (C#6/9) and holding it for a minute and a half (from 2:00-3:30).

I'll be honest in saying that this song isn't as good as the covers Fundamentally Sound sings on previous releases. I'm a big fan of this group but this track is not the best I've heard these guys sing. I wish it was a part of an EP or a full album because as a standalone single, it doesn't really impress. I am hoping for the group to redeem itself by producing an EP or a full length album on par with the songs on the 2012 album Sound the Alarm — or better.

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