James Blake and Justin Vernon Pair Up for a Painfully Intimate Cover of “The Sounds of Silence”


James Blake and Justin Vernon (of Bon Iver) shared their interpretation of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sounds of Silence” on Blake’s BBC 1 Residency Show yesterday. The track — which Blake dedicated to a friend who died last year — was the second collaboration the two have released, the first being “The Fall Creek Boys’ Choir.”

Like many James Blake songs, “The Sounds of Silence” sounds like the speculative soundtrack of a roly poly’s interior life: it features the two singers’ treated voices somersaulting over minimal, listless synth that likewise oddly propels the song by curling in on itself in the middle of each note. It’s all set atop the distant sound of rain, which sways in and out of focus.

If the original seemed the paragon of hauntingly intimate music, this is just as much of a feat, creating a mood so delicate and close with sounds that so often connote distance.

Listen to the track below, or check out Blake’s full session on BBC Radio 1: