I See a Darkness

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I See a Darkness
IseeaDarkness.jpg
Studio album by Bonnie 'Prince' Billy
Released January 19, 1999
Genre Indie rock, folk
Length 37:56
Label Palace, Domino
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy chronology
Joya
(1997)Joya1997
I See a Darkness
(1999)
Ease Down the Road
(2001)Ease Down the Road2001

I See a Darkness is the sixth studio album by American musician Will Oldham, released on January 19, 1999 on Palace Records as the first album under his moniker Bonnie 'Prince' Billy. The album features appearances from Bob Arellano, Colin Gagon, Paul Oldham, David Pajo, and Peter Townsend.

Johnny Cash recorded the titular track on his 2000 album American III: Solitary Man, with Oldham providing background vocals.[1] Steve Adey also covered the title track on his 2006 LP All Things Real.[2]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[3]
Clash 9/10[4]
Drowned in Sound 8/10[5]
The List 4/5 stars[6]
NME 7/10[7]
Pitchfork 10/10[8]
Q 4/5 stars[9]
Uncut 10/10[10]

I See a Darkness received generally positive reviews from music critics. Samir Khan of Pitchfork awarded the album a rare perfect score and described it as Oldham's "consummate offering" and the "type of record that demands solitary reverence".[8] Gregg Rounds of AllMusic wrote that it showcased "a more melodic style than the veteran Palace listener might be used to", while at the same time noting that Oldham "hasn't abandoned his foundation of mordant lyrics and minimalist arrangements, but he has built a variety of different layers that make this album an emotional and pleasurable listening experience".[3] The A.V. Club's Stephen Thompson remarked that I See a Darkness was the "most appropriate synthesis yet of Oldham's vocals and backing band".[11] Matt LeMay of Stylus Magazine wrote that "by addressing concepts so grand with such sincerity and skill, the album is incredibly powerful under even the most mundane of circumstances".[12]

Simon Williams of NME was more reserved in his praise of I See a Darkness, which he described as "grim" and "perversely cheery", advising listeners that "patience is a virtue" but nonetheless praising the album as a "delicate, intelligent record".[7] Sputnikmusic's Alex Robertson noted the grim subject matter and opined that the album was most effective "when Oldham steers away from his own formula of sadness and strumming".[13] Reviewing the 2012 reissue of the album, Aaron Lavery of Drowned in Sound felt that I See a Darkness was Oldham's "finest achievement thus far" and the "essential release" in his discography.[5] Q called the album "his masterpiece, ushering in a direct and less mythic style of songwriting".[9]

I See a Darkness has been ranked in several publications' lists of best albums.[14] Pitchfork ranked it the ninth best album of the 1990s.[15] In 2004, Stylus Magazine placed I See a Darkness at number 171 on its list of the 200 best albums of all-time,[16] while in 2006, Mojo deemed it a "modern classic" and the twentieth best album released during the magazine's lifetime.[17] The album was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[18]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics written by Will Oldham, except where noted; all music composed by Oldham.

No. Title Length
1. "A Minor Place" 3:43
2. "Nomadic Revery (All Around)" 3:58
3. "I See a Darkness" 4:49
4. "Another Day Full of Dread" 3:10
5. "Death to Everyone" 4:31
6. "Knockturne" 2:17
7. "Madeleine-Mary" 2:31
8. "Song for the New Breed" (Dianne Bellino) 3:24
9. "Today I Was an Evil One" 3:52
10. "Black" 3:46
11. "Raining in Darling" 1:54

References[edit]

  1. ^ Beckett, Colin (September 1, 2003). "Johnny Cash – American IV: The Man Comes Around". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved April 7, 2013. 
  2. ^ Mathers, Ian (July 6, 2006). "Steve Adey – All Things Real". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved April 7, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Rounds, Gregg. "I See a Darkness – Bonnie "Prince" Billy". AllMusic. Retrieved July 10, 2015. 
  4. ^ James, Gareth (July 23, 2012). "Bonnie 'Prince' Billy – I See A Darkness". Clash (76). Retrieved April 7, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Lavery, Aaron (July 27, 2012). "Album Review: Bonnie 'Prince' Billy – Arise Therefore; Joya; I See A Darkness (reissued)". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved April 7, 2013. 
  6. ^ Trew, Jonathan (December 17, 1998). "Bonnie 'Prince' Billy: I See a Darkness (Domino)". The List (349): 54. Retrieved March 4, 2017. 
  7. ^ a b Williams, Simon (January 25, 1999). "Bonnie Prince Billy – I See A Darkness". NME. Archived from the original on August 17, 2000. Retrieved April 7, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b Khan, Samir (September 30, 1999). "Bonnie "Prince" Billy: I See a Darkness". Pitchfork. Retrieved July 10, 2015. 
  9. ^ a b "Bonnie "Prince" Billy: I See a Darkness". Q: 113. 2012. 
  10. ^ Young, Rob (July 9, 2012). "Bonnie 'Prince' Billy – reissues". Uncut. Retrieved July 10, 2015. 
  11. ^ Thompson, Stephen (January 19, 1999). "Bonnie 'Prince' Billy: I See A Darkness". The A.V. Club. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 
  12. ^ LeMay, Matt (September 2, 2002). "Stranded: I See a Darkness". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved April 7, 2013. 
  13. ^ Robertson, Alex (January 17, 2010). "Review: Bonnie 'Prince' Billy – I See a Darkness". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved April 7, 2013. 
  14. ^ Acclaimed Music
  15. ^ "Top 100 Albums of the 1990s". Pitchfork. November 17, 2003. Retrieved April 7, 2013. 
  16. ^ "Top 101–200 Favourite Albums Ever". Stylus Magazine. March 22, 2004. Archived from the original on December 14, 2005. Retrieved April 7, 2013. 
  17. ^ "The 100 Greatest Albums of Our Lifetime". Mojo (150): 65. May 2006. 
  18. ^ Dimery, Robert, ed. (2010). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN 0-7893-2074-6.