Last to the concert gets a bad seat. How come, in this age of overshare and well-populated search engines, do I still get to good bits of news late? Then again, I could of sworn I was listening to 10cc. Maybe it’s the ghost in the machine? Whatever it is, Gayngs, which indeed sounds ethereal, ghost-like at times, was worth ‘discovering’.
Gayngs is one out Justin Vernon’s many bands. The term side-project may not do the man justice, for, unlike his friend and collaborator Kanye West, Vernon has scuttled his main project and looks to venture into new musical acts so long as they feel right.
As such, best known from his high-pitched goodness as Bon Iver, Vernon left that identity in 2012, telling as much to Rolling Stone:
I look at it like a faucet. I have to turn it off and walk away from it because so much of how that music comes together is subconscious or discovering. There’s so much attention on the band, it can be distracting at times. I really feel the need to walk away from it while I still care about it. And then if I come back to it – if at all – I’ll feel better about it and be renewed or something to do that.
Previous and concurrent acts Vernon has been associated with include, in no particular order: Shouting Matches, Volcano Choir, Bon Iver, Eau Claire Jazz Memorial Ensemble, DeYarmond Edison & Mount Vernon. Robert Durst didn’t even have that many alibis.
Now, Gayngs which some may describe as a mega group, seems more like a collaborative act to me if we focus on Vernon’s role in the music. Vernon, who appears fond of 80s sounds — see “Beth/Rest” and The Outfield cover Bon Iver played of “Your Love” — hits the soft noise and electronic poings! and reverberating croonings of that decade to great effect in as a Gayngs member.
Some of their songs could have been the backdrop to a scene of Twin Peaks.
Others, update a vintage sound with modern preferences for noise, solos and rap-singing.
Then there’s “The Gaudy Side of Town,” which is a combo velvety-trancey-smokey record that does justice to the classic front man-backup singer dynamic, Vernon filling the rafters with his high-frequency wails. It’s a great listen, but, what’s next?