Volume 3 is essential listening and another triumph.»
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'New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light' is the final installment in a trilogy of solo albums and is Stetson's most ambitious song cycle to date, again recorded live in single takes with a wide array of microphone positions and again mixed by groundbreaking producer Ben Frost. Colin's membership in Bon Iver over the past two years has also led to vocal contributions from Justin Vernon for this record, who appears on four songs, with a diverse approach on each, and whose voice constitutes the only overdubbing on the album. The new record's 15-minute centerpiece, title track 'To See More Light', is the longest piece Stetson has yet recorded and possibly the heaviest: a tour de force of swirling arpeggiation, continuous breathing, pumping valves and vocalizations through the reed of the horn that gives way to a tremendous, screaming, sea-sawing dirge through the song's final movement. This latter stretch conjures a sort of saxophonic sludge metal, and the album's heaviosity references other sub-genres of metal as well, most notably in the hardcore blast of 'Brute' (abetted by Vernon's cookie monster barking) and the ambient grindcore throb of 'Hunted'. In other instances, the album is soulful and even hymnal, especially where Vernon's vocals play a lead role: opener 'And In Truth' (featuring Vernon's most instantly recognisable contribution, of massed, multi-tracked harmonies), the cover of Washington Phillips' gospel tune 'What Are They Doing In Heaven Today', and 'Among The Sef' where Vernon (singing a lyric written by Stetson) delivers one of the more tender and honest vocal performances we've heard from him in any context. 'New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light' is the most cohesive and fully realized of Stetson's solo albums to date. It should reliably stand as the apotheosis of the New History Warfare trilogy, and certainly signals the full flourishing of Stetson's unique talents as both composer and performer, pressing his arsenal of virtuosic saxophone techniques into the service of vivid, impassioned and conceptually astute songcraft.
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