Song of the Day: “Hall of Death” by Matt Sweeney and Bonnie Prince Billy

Bonnie Prince Billy
Matt Sweeney and Bonnie Prince Billy (Photo by Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe)

Where once was Superwolf, now roam Superwolves, the new album and demon spawn of Matt Sweeney and Bonnie Prince Billy, out digitally April 30 on Drag City and available physically on June 18.

Today marks the arrival of their new single “Hall of Death.”

Matt and Will Oldham (aka Bonnie Prince Billy) wrote “Hall Of Death” with visionary Tuareg guitarist and producer Ahmoudou Madassane. The song features Will and Matt in their traditional respective roles of singer and guitarist recording live in the studio with Madassane on rhythm electric guitar, joined by his formidable bandmates: Mdou Moctar adding his unmistakable lead guitar, Mike Coltun on electric bass, and Souleyman Ibrahim on drumset. Its accompanying video was directed by Sai Selvarajan and Jeff Bednarz.

Watch the official music video for “Hall of Death” by Matt Sweeney and Bonnie Prince Billy on YouTube:

The songs that make up Superwolves, the duo’s second album and first since 2005’s Superwolf, go boldly into undreamed-of places, and go deep, as Matt and Bonny take all the musics they know to make songs that penetrate. In classic Garcia-Hunter style, Matt and Will first work separately, finding a path to each other in their solitary imaginings. Bonnie lyric sets delivered to Matt spark Sweeney’s guitar brain; chords and a melody are shaped, recorded fast and loose and sent back to the ‘Prince,’ then the two parties meet up to sing, stitch, strengthen, and finally perform them together in front of a small unsuspecting audience.

Then new sets of lyrics are sent, animated, and played in a high wire style until the shared songs and experiences are ready to commit to record. This is just the beginning of their fusion process, as words imply vocalizations to counter and support, and guitar lines suggest harmonic fields to subtly push into. In this process, a new creature grows out of the old one. In this name of this partnership, the guitar shares an open and fluid space with the vocals, the voices sing with the guitars — every moment in the life of Superwolves is an extravaganza, guided only by its need.

Visit Matt Sweeney and Bonnie Prince Billy on Bandcamp for more music.

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