Bon Iver – Bon Iver

Staff writer Andy Downing wrote an insightful review of this, Bon Iver’s recent album, in Issue 38. But since he was then only in possession of the advance CD, he was unable to comment on the LP’s sound quality.

Greg Calbi at Sterling is at the helm here, and does an acceptable job but no more. The pressing is quiet, though, which adds to the music’s ethereal feel. Where the CD is slightly flat in terms of soundstage, the LP has more width and a modest helping of depth. But where Justin Vernon’s wispy voice resides on the same plane as the music in the digital version, he’s relegated to the rear of the stage on vinyl. Similarly, the low-level keyboard bits have more room to float, yet the more prominent keyboard riffs now sound more like mellotrons—ironic given that the liner notes specifically say, “No mellotrons were used in this recording.”

So something is gained, and something is lost on the LP version. Also note: The additional warmth gained from going to analog may prove too much for anyone having a system with a tonal balance skewed to the romantic side.

Jagjaguwar, LP