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Bon Iver’s i,i: a vulnerable yet self-assured album of tender falsetto and pulsing synths

A quotation from F. Scott Fitzgeralds 1934 novel Tender is the Night is tattooed on the ribcage of a..

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A quotation from F. Scott Fitzgeralds 1934 novel Tender is the Night is tattooed on the ribcage of a close friend of mine. The tattoo says simply “an ochre stitch” – pertaining to a description of the novels schizophrenic Nicole, “her yellow dress twisting through the crowd, an ochre stitch along the edge of reality and unreality”. This image of Nicole – a character who straddles the border between reality and unreality, wellness and illness, object and subject and lover and patient – is no passing metaphor. The colour ochre, a deep, musty yellow, is vivid in its subtlety: not passionate red or gloomy blue. It represents an ambivalent state: torn, anxious, not fully understanding an emotions provenance or if its real or imagined.

This ochre area is difficult to capture artistically, but something akin to it has afforded Bon Iver – the now decade-long music project from Wisconsin-born Justin Vernon – its enormous success, and is crystallised on new album i,i, a record released as a surprise digital drop today. Bon Ivers music is known for its emotional impact, but its real beauty is in its ability to toe this line of tension between real and surreal, to embrace hovering on the edge. The new album is a realisation of settling into this sensation, and it demonstrates accumulated skill in melodic writing and expressiveness. Its large band makes the whole record feel communal, and it comes with an air of confidence.

Throughout their work, Bon Iver have broadened their horizons while staying fixed to their roots. Bon Iver (and Vernon as its frontman) have been a symbol of melancholic introspection since their first album For Emma, Forever Ago was released in 2008. With his cryptic sadness, beard and plaid shirts, Vernon became a pin-up for late-2000s hipsterism: on For Emma, he sings songs of lost love backed mostly by an earthy acoustic guitar. But his distinctive vocal is what lends For Emma its lasting impact. Vernons voice ranges from falsetto to baritone with formidable control – until it breaks with emotion on “Skinny Love”, the bands most famous song. Its a record of wintry landscapes: a story now central to the bands mythology is that Vernon wrote this album holed up in his fathers cabin in the woods, over three months of a Wisconsin winter. The whole record is slightly muffled, as though beneath a heavy layer of snow.

Bon Ivers self-titled second album, too, has a strong sense of place, with songs like “Perth”, “Hinnom, TX” and “Calgary” building a landscape that is based in reality but necessarily imagined by the listener – hovering somewhere between the two. “Woods”, the final track on 2009 EP Blood Bank (released between For Emma and Bon Iver), perhaps best captures this liminal space. Repeating a single verse over and over, the lyrics refer to both physical and emotional isolation: “Im up in the woods / Im down on my mind”. Musically, “Woods” is a departure: it consists solely of acapella vocals, heavily distorted by a vocoder, with gradually layered harmonies. The sonic landscape becomes increasingly intense and obtuse as we are plunged deeper and deeper into woods both literal and metaphorical – a real and surreal location.

Subsequently sampled by Kanye West, “Woods” seemed to mark the beginning of a new era for Bon Iver, the start of their stadium-filling, electro-acoustic sound. Their next release in 2016, 22, A Million, is futuristic and complex, awash with crackling noise distortions, vocoder and heavy harmonies. Any sense of place is now distorted: distant noises are juxtaposed with jarringly immediate sounds.

New album i,i feels like an amalgamation of all this previous work. Vernon has said it “feels very much like the most adult record, the most complete.” i,i deliberately embraces uncertainty. It incorporates the elements of electronica and surrealism that we saw on 22, A Million, but provides space for those currents to be grounded.

On the first full track, “iMi”, a synthesised “shh” sound comes in waves; the vocal is distorted and full of repetition, as Vernon sings “I am / I am / I am / I am / I am / I am / I am” until the meaning of the phrase degrades. But there is also a moment of blistering clarity, when Vernon sings in a low register an almost mundanely affectionate lyric: “I like you, I like you / And that aint nothing new”. “” explores Vernons extraordinary vocal range, electronically layering recordings of his own voice in octaves before continuing in falsetto. “Naeem” is raw and full of drive, with call and response between the vocal and instrumental, and heavy drums that nod to Vernons previous collaborations with the Dessner brothers of The National. Its stadium-filling proportions are reminiscent of those that began to emerge on Bon Iver in songs like “Beth/Rest”.

Perhaps what is newly distinctive about i,i, though, is its emphasis on community. Vocals are not just heavily harmonised or overdubbed, but sung by choirs and groups. “Hey, Ma”, is an emotive reflection on the mother-child relationship, telling the listener to “call your ma”. It is more declarative and confident than the murky and melancholic “Flume”, first track of For Emma, which had similar themes: “I am my mothers only one / Its enough”. “U (Man Like)” embraces the collective feel: it has classic Bon Iver overdubbed vocal but with voices other than his own. There is a broad range of instrumentation: saxophone, brass and strings as well as piano, synth and guitar. Throughout, i,i is self-aware but no longer introspective: Bon Iver face us head-on.

Sometimes, in sad or anxious moments, we need to retreat, submerge, look inwards. Sometimes we need to lift ourselves out. And sometimes we need to hover in our indecision, in Read More – Source

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Burkina Faso military says it has seized power

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The military in Burkina Faso says it has seized power and overthrown President Roch Kaboré.

The announcement was made on state television by an army officer, who cited the deteriorating security situation for the military takeover.

Mr Kaboré had faced growing discontent over his failure to stem an Islamist insurgency.

His whereabouts are unclear, but the officer said that all those detained were in a secure location.

The coup comes a day after troops seized barracks, and gunshots were heard in the capital, Ouagadougou.

Earlier, the ruling People’s Movement for Progress (PMP) party said that both Mr Kaboré and a government minister had survived an assassination attempt.

On Sunday, mutinying troops demanded the sacking of military chiefs and more resources to fight militants linked to the Islamic State (IS) group and al-Qaeda.

The army statement said Mr Kaboré had failed to unite the nation and to deal effectively with the security crisis which “threatens the very foundations of our nation”.

The statement was issued in the name of a group not heard of previously, the Patriotic Movement for Safeguard and Restoration or MPSR, its French acronym.

Although read out by another officer, the statement was signed by Lt-Col Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, who is believed to be the coup leader and a senior commander with years of experience fighting the Islamist militants.

The statement said that parliament and the government had been dissolved, and the constitution suspended, but promised a “return to constitutional order” within a “reasonable time”.

The military also announced the closure of Burkina Faso’s borders.

UN chief António Guterres condemned the coup and called on the military to “ensure the protection and the physical integrity” of Mr Kaboré.

The African Union and regional bloc, Ecowas, have also condemned the forceful takeover of power, with Ecowas saying it holds the soldiers responsible for the deposed president’s well-being.

Earlier, the news of his detention was received with cheers and celebrations in Ouagadougou, reports the BBC’s senior Africa correspondent Anne Soy.

Earlier video footage from the capital appeared to show armoured vehicles – reportedly used by the presidency – peppered with bullet holes and abandoned in the street.

Mobile internet services have been disrupted, though fixed-line internet and domestic wi-fi are working.

Mr Kaboré has not been seen in public since the crisis began, but two posts appeared on his Twitter account before the officer announced he had been toppled.

The later one called on those who had taken up arms to lay them down “in the higher interest of the nation”. Earlier, Mr Kaboré congratulated the national football team on their win in an Africa Cup of Nations match.

It is unclear who posted the tweets.

Some security sources say the president and other government ministers are being held at the Sangoulé Lamizana barracks in the capital.

On Sunday, hundreds of people came out in support of the soldiers and some of them set fire to the ruling party’s headquarters.

The coup comes a week after 11 soldiers were arrested for allegedly plotting to overthrow Mr Kaboré.

But discontent has been growing in Burkina Faso over the government’s failure to defeat an Islamist insurgency in the country since 2015.

That escalated in November, when 53 people, mainly members of the security forces, were killed by suspected jihadists. And on Saturday, a banned rally to protest against the government’s perceived failure led to dozens of arrests.

Mutinying soldiers made several demands, including: the removal of the army’s chief of staff and the head of the intelligence service; more troops to be deployed to the front line; and better conditions for the wounded and soldiers’ families.

Similar troubles in neighbouring Mali led to a military coup in May 2021 – one that was broadly welcomed by the public.

Burkina Faso is now the third West African country to witness a military takeover in recent years. Guinea and Mali have had sanctions imposed on them by Ecowas to press them to return to constitutional order.

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India Covid: Booster shots start for priority groups as cases surge

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India has begun giving booster doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to priority groups amid a surge in infections.

Health and frontline workers and people above 60 years old with comorbidities are currently eligible to take the jab.

The drive began as India battles a spike in Covid cases fuelled by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Early studies from other countries have suggested that a booster vaccine may provide more protection against Omicron.

The highly transmissive Omicron variant was first discovered in South Africa in November.

Since then, several countries have expanded their booster programmes or shortened the gap between jabs to shore up protection against the variant.

In India, the booster shot – dubbed a “precaution dose” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi – will be the same vaccine that was given to a person for their first and second doses.

India has been mainly administering two locally-manufactured vaccines, Covishield and Covaxin, since its vaccination drive began in January 2021.

On Sunday, India reported more than 179,000 new infections for the past 24 hours, driven by a steep rise in cases in big cities such as the national capital Delhi and financial centre Mumbai.

On the same day, Mr Modi chaired a review meeting with top officials, and asked for “technical support” to be provided to states reporting more cases.

The government had begun administering vaccines to 15-18-year-olds last week – it has said that 31% of Indians in this age group have been given the first dose so far.

More than 91% adults have been partially vaccinated so far, while 66% have received both doses.

But experts say that still leaves millions of unvaccinated people – many with underlying health problems that could increase the severity of the infection – at risk.

The spread of Omicron has also increased worries – India has confirmed a total of 4,003 cases of Omicron, with Maharashtra state reporting the highest (1,126), followed by Rajasthan (529) and Delhi (513).

The country has so far recorded more than 35 million Covid cases and about 483,000 deaths from the virus.

Last year, a devastating second wave overwhelmed the country’s health system, leading to a shortage in oxygen, hospital beds and critical drugs.

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Emily in Paris Fans Think Kim Cattrall Will Make an Appearance in Season 3

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instyle– Fans are speculating a major pop-culture crossover in season 3 of Emily in Paris. After Kim Cattrall infamously turned down the chance to revive her Sex and the City character, Samantha Jones, for the rebootfans couldn’t help but wonder if Jones could make an appearance in the next season of the cult-favorite Netflix show.

If you’re watching And Just Like That … (and even if you’re not), you know that Cattrall’s character is supposedly off working her public relationships magic in London, England, just a quick trip from Emily (Lily Collins) and her booming marketing firm, Savoir.

RELATED: Everything You Need to Know About Emily in Paris Season 2

Fans noticed major parallels between the characters, from their location to their sex positivity to their career in communications. Plus, both series were created by big-time Hollywood producer Darren Star — with SATC costume designer Patricia Field now responsible for Emily’s kitschy, Parisian looks — making a collab that much more believable.

One Twitter user wrote, “Current theory: Samantha has supposedly moved overseas, hence her lack of presence in the new SATC TV series. Then she shows up by total surprise in a crossover episode of EMILY IN PARIS. I would watch Samantha try to tolerate Emily, 100 percent.”

Collins fueled the flames by teasing a possible season 3. The actress posted photographs from her Vogue Hong Kong cover featuring a jet-black shag haircut and dark makeup writing, “Season 3 pivot?? Who’s with me? …” Collins used the same caption when reposting a fan’s Tweet with the magazine images that read, “Emily in Berlin.”

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