I See a Darkness is the sixth album by American musician Will Oldham, released on Palace Records on January 19, 1999 as the first album under the name Bonnie "Prince" Billy. The album features appearances from Bob Arellano, Colin Gagon, Paul Oldham, David Pajo, and Peter Townsend.Wikipedia
Fantastic. Hauntingly beautiful from start to finish.
Meh. Kinda boring
If there's one thing you can say about Will, it's he looks like how his music sounds.
“I See a Darkness” by Bonnie “Prince” Billy (1999) Sometimes, legitimate poetic expressions seem to sit high on a throne of non-referential, non-allusive obscurity, holding a scepter of grammar-be-damned nonsense and crowned with a greater than ordinary vocabulary. But that doesn’t make them good as lyrics. A lyricist has one shot at grabbing the listener by the passions, and on this album, Bonnie “Prince” Billy has missed wildly. He sings as though he would have preferred to not come into the studio that day. No he doesn’t. He doesn’t sing at all. He mumbles over some tonal doodles, undecided as to whether he’d prefer to vibrate or croak out the end of each phrase. To call the arrangements ‘spare’ would be overly generous. Off-pitch backing vocals are completely (and intentionally) out of sync with the lead, as if that’s some sort of stylish adornment. There’s way too much left-hand piano and electric bass pounding out a melancholy dirge. After listening to the album “I See a Darkness”, I don’t see a darkness. I hear a silence. Sorry to have wasted your time, dear reader. 1/5
a depressing and optimistic ode to survival.
Dreadful and honest. There's an effect where instrumentals like the electric guitar solo in "Another Day Full of Dread" are dulled down, as if given the spotlight yet unable to express itself to the fullest. It knows when to be simple and when to be chaotic. Vocalist is soothing and dynamic, sometimes reminding me of Eddie Vedder but mostly John Darnielle. Favorites: I See a Darkness, Death to Everyone, Madeleine-Mary
I wonder how Bonny Prince Billy would feel about his album being played with interludes of adds from the likes of State Farm, Eggland’s Best and VRBO? Will Oldham has always seemed like the most pretentious dude in the world. He’s so precious about being “real” and having “integrity.” He seems like the type who would ignore you at a party and make sarcastic jokes at your expense. Bonny Prince Billy always reminds me of a train ride I took with Zoe where she had us both listen to the album in perfect unison and was weird about getting it exact, then having sex, it was a sexy idea, but her controlling exactitude, me not fucking in rhythm, the music getting off unison, the conductor knocking at the door, made what should’ve been amazing a hellish experience. I was really feeling the first half of album, raw, singer songwriter Appalachian rock. It’s fragile and wandering. Sounds like the songs of a tragic loner in the olden times. As the album went on it wasn’t as good, some bad forced rhyme and cadence, some sloppy instrumentation. I want yo love Nonmie Prince Billy and there are moments when I do, but for the most part his albums are just out of reach, I’m just not cool enough to really embrace it, kind of like when I was trying to listen to it and have sex on a train.
Ooof. This one's a heavy load. Feels like it deserves another spin and a more dedicated listen to look beneath the hood. Just the voice and arrangements alone were affecting. I think I'm in. Hady had to put headphones on to block out Bonnie while cooking empanadas. It seemed like Elliot Smith with less catchy melodies and a more mature perspective. Bookmarking this to return to in deep dark December, then play NIN. For now a placeholder B+
An intriguing whisp of an album - didn't cohere fully on first listen, but this may have been a function of the organic, ethereal feel each track has, as if they're arising out of nothingness
Oh man, where do I start. First, I thought the first track was ok and I might enjoy the album. But then the 2nd one...woof. it sounded like 2 people singing different songs at the same time. It sounded like an elementary school lunch room when the kids were getting too rowdy. I kept begging for that 1 teacher who could stick their fingers in their mouth and make that ear piercing whistle to create SILENCE! Then the rest of the album was just shit. If I wanted to hear a shitty story by a boring guy with his guitar I'd join a commune. Literally fuck this album.
I SEE A DARKNESS is the first album I've listened to from Bonnie 'Prince' Billy. It's a pretty downbeat affair, and when I first started listening I worried that it might become tedious. This album was anything but that... "A Minor Place" seemed like a pretty down song on the first listen. Then after hearing the album I realized it was one of the more upbeat tracks, relatively speaking. "Nomadic Revelry (All Around)" is basically a love song, albeit a rather somber one. It would seem death is never far regardless of the nature of the song. I absolutely loved "I See A Darkness". Lyrics about the existential struggle of living that runs as an undercurrent to our friendships - those friends that we seek as a refuge from the darkness. Really moving song that gave me chills. My favorite song on the album. Incredible. The introspection continues with "Another Day Full of Dread" that lives up to the title. It is followed by "Death To Everyone" that contrary to what one might assume is not an angry threat but another existential exploration of death. The fun of living is a real positive part of the lyrics. You'd never know it if you weren't listening carefully. The remainder of the album continues in this vein, with what might be a downbeat sea shanty ("Madeleine-Mary"?), a redemption song (or prayer? - "Today I Was An Evil One"), and more somber, existential explorations. The album closes with "Raining in Darling", a dirge-like - dare I say - love song? A really beautiful dirge of a love song. This is a really bleak album that I would not suggest as the soundtrack to your next party. Many of the songs do have climaxes where the energy increases, but not by doing much with the tempo - instead by the swelling arrangements. Still that shouldn't put anyone off - Bonnie 'Prince' Billy is a master of making somber songs about somber subjects very listenable and absolutely beautiful. This is a really impressive album that I will be listening to again.
Whoa. This is dark. I am worried about Bonnie "Prince" Billy. His pain is palpable. I felt heart-sick the entire duration of my first listen. I think I'm on my fourth time through now. It is still dark but it gets prettier and prettier the more I listen. There's not a song I dislike on the album. I find the songs I See a Darkness and Today I Was an Evil One especially resonant, at least today. The record ends on a positive note (I think?) with Raining in Darling. "Oh, it don't rain anymore I go outdoors Where it's fun to be And I know you love me I know you do" love love love
Oh, this one seized me. It didn't leave me when I was done listening. Yikes. I became a bit obsessed with it, which I didn't even see coming while I listened to it for the first and second time. The songs are beautiful, I think. I don't always understand the lyrics, but when I do, they stab. (And I HATE phony, whiny, "depressive" lyrics. These feel so real.) Someone needs to take "I See a Darkness" away from me, because I keep going back to it. And the Johnny Cash version with backing vocal by BPB. "Death to Everyone" is another one. There isn't a song on here that doesn't make me feel something. I need a Captain & Tennille intervention.
Mooi ingetogen depri eerlijk donker simpel open , 1ste echte ontdekking
Had never heard of this guy before. It was a nice surprise… Very dark and depressing lyrics. Loved it. … However, I did not like having to listen to this via YouTube because it is not on Spotify. The random loud-ass insurance ads between each song really sucked.
Thank you! One of my favorite albums of all time, five stars hands-down. This album has been there for me during every tough part of my life for the last 22 years.
Classic album, absolutely love BPB. Great album to revisit this morning.
Really dug it. Got wilco and shins vibes in parts. But loved the folk vibe
Vraiment aimé mon écoute, je pense me le procurer. Émotion bien sentie, musique poignante, mais sans flafla
This album is a compelling mixture of country, folk, and experimental. Bonnie Prince Billy’s warbly voice calls to mind the ‘high lonesome sound’ of Appalachian music within a indie framework. The compelling lyrics and minimalistic music draw the listener in to something that feels strikingly intimate.
Solemn and moody
Only one listen, but one listen was plenty. I tried noting down highlights but gave up around 'Death To Everyone' - every single track on this magnificent record is an absolute highlight! The desperate, heartfelt, post-punk delivered by Oldham is simply amazing. The entire thing feels fragile but with a solid foundation in melodies, lyrics and perfect choices of the very sparse instrumentation.
The first time I listened to this I very much wasn't in the mood, so it fell flat. I gave it another chance the next day and appreciated it a lot more. You need to be in the right mindset to connect with morbid depressive off-kilter discordant folk, I guess. Also, I can't help thinking of Jeffrey Lewis' "Williamsburg Will Oldham Horror" 😂 Fave track - "Death to Everyone", or possibly "Madeleine-Mary"
The tones of the opening track remind me of the indie folk movement that has really taken off in the past decade or so like Tom Petty's solo stuff, The Lumineers, Lord Huron, and Head and the Heart. The album hits a samey-samely level around track 8/9, but this is a nice mellow listen and a good background listen.
I started the day with two listens and all that I took away from the experience was a feeling of dread. I was not overly fond. So, I decided to give it one more listen on my walk in the evening. Maybe it was the fresh air, the beautiful sunset, or the fact that it had grown on me, but I really started to appreciate the simple melodies and melancholy mood that the album elicited. I listened twice on my walk…and halfway through the second listen, I thought “maybe I love this album”. But no, I am not sure that I even like it…I am some what intrigued by it though and suspect that I will crave it again in the future.
Sparse and raw, it is moody and contains both intense and quiet moments. Though it drifts a little more on the back half, the album is interesting and enjoyable.
// Favs: Score: Decent to Strong 4
Really good folk - gotta be if Johnny Cash will cover ya late career. Started very strong, finished less so. Squeaks into a 4.
un des meilleurs albums de "country" du millénaire je pense
Shows how enjoyable a folk album can be even if it's just simple instrumentation and one vocalist
Альбом целостный, впечатление приятное оставил.
I used to be way into anything Will Oldham/Palace/Bonnie Prince Billy put out after being completely floored one night by The Palace Brothers "Days In The Wake." Nothing else quite ever came close to that initial, nearly transcendent experience for me, but "I See A Darkness" is certainly a good representation of his general style, and undoubtedly considered among his best work. Will Oldham has this sort of laid back form of vulnerability that I can see could make some people uncomfortable. The kind of thing you either love or hate. And honestly, I can see how he can come across as boring too. But listen closely to those lyrics and you will come to know that he is a very unique songwriter who is able to capture these states of mind that are seldom put into words, let alone to music. His language can be incredibly poetic, even cryptic, but also, at times, disarmingly frank and direct. Both philosophical and mundane. I deeply appreciate that he tempers the one with the other. His voice seems to embody vulnerability to me. A brave and admirable vulnerability though. It has a sort of confidence in it somehow by paradoxically embracing its flaws and weaknesses. And I think that is underscored in the looseness of the playing. I could see how his songs could sort of collapse under their own weight if they were over produced. But the way they are recorded I get the sense he doesn't want to labor over things, to overthink it, or else he might stifle the spirit of what he's trying to do. It sounds as if he was simply recording things as they came to him. Like he was capturing a moment, or a mood, that was bigger than the songs themselves.
Dug the vibe of this but it wasn't available on Spotify
This was a really good album, definitely worthy of the praise it receives.
Wow this one really did it for me. Well done.
Bonnie Prince is so weird and wonderful. Love this album
Ok, I'm depressed now :)
Sometimes you need a nice emo boy singing you songs about your inevitable death. Not exactly Monday morning listening material but idk today it hit the spot.
très bien, dark, dans la lignée spirituelle du post rock, proche de slint
Actually quite pretty at times, just wasn't very exciting either. 7/10
7/10. Really good, stay tuned for my Minecraft parody of the first song "A Miner Place"
Good music. Good lyrics. Nice listen.
Interesting album. I like it.
Herkkä ja kaunis levy, iski kyllä. 4/5, voi tulevilla kuunteluilla nousta täyteen femmaan.
Tähän sopi youtuben mainokset hyvin eiku. Voimakas ja kaunis levy. Tykkään laulutyylistä kovasti.
Kaunista ja synkkää. Hyvää folkkia todentotta vaikken kyseisen genren suurkuluttaja olekaan! 4/5
One of those albums that deserve to be heard in one sitting. Oldham’s songwriting is haunting and longing and I See A Darkness only makes use of sparse instrumentation. I feel moved with almost every word uttered by Oldham and while the first listen made me consider a 3 / 5, the second listen won me over.
Amazing voice, perfectly accompanied
No clue about this ahead of listening but it's beautiful.
A bleak indie folk album isn't going to win any points for originality, but at least the execution was nice (most of the time). Best track: I See A Darkness
This was weird emo folk music. It was good but not a lot stood out
The music sounded quite good, but I really can't imagine this as being anything other than pleasant and unobtrusive background music. 3.5 rounded down for lack of any standout tracks.
Disc de folk gòtic, crepuscular, depressiu, gairebé suïcida on l'ambientació, la veu trencadissa d'Oldham i sobretot les lletres prenen protagonisme per sobre les lletres. Per moments molt concrets, però en ells, el disc excel.leix
I'm not sure if I've ever heard of BPB before. All of the music was new for me. "A Minor Place" was my favorite track, and a good start to the album. The album was consistent and all of the tracks fit the same general mood. I liked the album, but towards the end it was harder to pay attention to each track. This was a good album.
Alright. So. Having delved into artists like Devendra Banhart (thanks to this project!!), this kind of folk didn't surprise me too much. It oscillated between "what's happening" and "ah, yes" for me. It's getting a 3, but I want to give it another listen when I'm in a different headspace.
Välistä tosi makee soundi ja sitten seuraavan hetkenä hiipu kasaan. Ei kuitenkaan ihan paska vaikka tuskin tulee löytymään omalta soittolistalta tulevaisuudessa.
Okay folk music
Thought this album was surprisingly decent. The tone and style was pretty mellow but the songs felt like there was more depth to it. Didn’t really dislike any song but didn’t find any standing out either. It was a good new album. 6.4/10
Very sad mood, good strings good voice, overall better than expected 3/5
Needs more listening...
Bylo mainstreamowo, to teraz podziemny album od pana pod pseudonimem Bonnie "Prince" Billy, ktory z tego co widze jest plodnym tworca muzyki indyjsko folkowej, ale to juz jest taka nisza, ze operowanie gatunkami nie ma tutaj najmniejszego sensu, I See A Darkness jest jego pierwszym pod tym pseudonimem, drugim studyjnym, a szostym w dyskografii krazkiem, najlepszym okresleniem na kontent plyty bedzie bez zycia, instrumentalnie przewaza granie akustykiem, bongosem czy delikantymi klawiszami, moze dwa traki sa oparte na czyms bardziej elektrycznym, ale to nie samo instrumentalne brzmienie swiadczy o niezyciu tego nagrania, a jego pustka liryczna, ktora z pewnoscia byla celowym zabiegiem majacym otoczyc sluchacza aura apatii, ktora wyciekla z glowy pana Bonniego, ktory widac, ze szanuje swoja prace lirczna, bo nawet wydal booka bedacego guidem do jego tworczosci, stamtad wiekszosc adnotacji geniusowych pochodzi, pierwszy raz cos takiego widze, a plyta jest tak undergroundowa, ze nie ma co jej szukac na spotifaju, ciekawa plyta, ale trzeba byc w specyficznym nastroju zeby dac sie jej porwac, moze byc do rany przylol, gdy czlowiek bedzie potrzebowal czegos co upewni go w otaczajacej go nicosci codziennej wszechrzeczy, najbardziej hajlajtowymi momentami byl dla mnie tytulowy utwor i today i was an evil one, ktory dobrze oddaje podejscie czlowieka do kwestii bycia zlodupcem, jesli przeciez i tak wszystko jutro bedzie mial wyzerowane, ale jak na 37 minut materialu na 11 trakach, to nie czuc zadnych przeciaganych momentow, kontent liryczny jest na tyle gesty zeby przykuc uwage sluchacza, a instrumenty stanowia dla niego jedynie tlo
Bon truc, chiant que c pas sur spotify
The lyrics are poetic with a delivery that is genuinely catches me off balance. I have heard this album is a slow burn so I will see. Death To Everyone is good and creepy. Black is good. I get the lyrics, but it didn't really convince me of anything. Maybe worth a relisten?
nice album, unfortunately in the wrong mood for something this gentle
There's something to like here, however I think it's mostly just surface level. I just listened to this album 2 hours ago and I already forgot pretty much everything about it. Not to say this isn't a good record, it just didn't stick with me in a meaningful way.
It was nice. Like Neil Young in a fit of depression nice. It had a gloomy atmosphere and was very well put together. Nothing transcendent (and annoyingly full of ads because it wasn't on Spotify, which didn't help with the flow of the album) but a nice album. It would probably grow on me with a few more listens, but not a luxury I had - maybe I'll get back to it one day.
He has a unique voice and the overdubbing is interesting. I would call it Americana style. Interesting but I wouldn't have it on heavy rotation.
first listen definitely a variety of sounds, but is so short and not much stood out to me
Perfectly pleasant album
Interesting it's not available on Spotify in the US, so I went to YouTube. Definitely a very vulnerable album and I did the aesthetic but nothing stuck out to me to make me wanna listen to it again, unfortunately.
There's a kind of naked wallowing to this that I don't relate to. Maybe I'm just not that emotionally evolved.
boring, few good moments
Dark and folksy I like it
Dark and sad. Probably a good album to put on when mourning the loss of someone close .
I thought it was pretty decent. A few songs really stood out that were quite beautiful and haunting. 6/10
I too see a Darkness
Really heavy stuff here. Good but sad all around.
It's OK. 3/5
Could do with less screaming
With songs like Death to Everyone, Another Day Full of Dread, and Today I Was an Evil One, how could I not feel optimistic and uplifted! Seriously though, this album should probably come with a warning label - if you have suicidal thoughts and ideations please don't listen! Having said all that, it was pretty good. 3 stars.
I enjoyed this well enough. It takes the unpolished schtick to a fault in many songs, however. The lyrics are smart but at times it seems that smartness supersedes good poetic structure - wordy mouthfuls that roll over the beat (such as it is). Ends stronger than it starts I thought. There are other artists (Smog comes to mind) in this vein that I like better.
Burde sikkert egentlig gitt da 2, men e visst litt i godlaget i dag
Knew the name, not the sound, but pleased to report I found it to be both bonnie and princely. Obviously it's a bit morbid (no problem) and one-paced (can be a problem), but for the most part it kept me enchanted with its earnest musings. Death To Everyone and the title track stood out as highlights. 3.5
Moody, mellow and mysterious
I like the overall feel of most of the tunes, but a lot of the vocal harmonies feel strained or shaky. I also thought that many of the lyrics were too noticeable for how bizarre they were.
This album is what I would've hoped from yesterday's album. One downside to this album it takes a more concentrated listen to do the lyrics justice. And that is something I didn't have the ability to give it today.
Прослушано! Спокойный мужской вокал, любопытный стиль, но как-то нудно.
Bit dark. That is the only notable thing about it. Not terrible, but really didn't grab me in any way.
First Listen. Sounded nice. Like to hear more.
Bleaker than a 2008 financial report but performed in a way that feels more like they're afraid of their favourite late night coffee spot closing or the girl they've been stalking on instagram finally blocking them. This was the album you heard coming out of your weird hipster housemate's room at uni.
Välillä ihan ok, ei vaan sopinu päivän tunnelmiin. Oli aika pitkälle samanlaista koko levy
Mehhhh. No favorite track
It's a bit dark and distracting. I'm not sure what the sound is in Death to Everyone... but it's distracting.
I really didn't care for it. I wanted the album to over but I did not skip any songs.
I actually enjoy the aesthetic and lyrical appeal, but musically it's just not interesting or impressive whatsoever. 2nd and 7th song were my favorites here, probably? I like what the artist is going for but it leaves me wanting so much musically. The lyrics are never the reason I LOVE music; the music must be good first.
Found this slow & relatively uninteresting.
When it first started I thought, well this is kind of a weird vibe that I will probably be in to. After a few songs I made it to wtf is this but wrapped it up with that was weird but not the worst thing we've heard thus far.
It's a very stripped back indie folk album which goes through the musings of a man going through some stuff and feels a little personal. Best: Death To Everyone Worst: Today I Was An Evil One Note: This Album is NOT available on Spotify - needed to head to YouTube to listen to it.
Some good bits
I like the cover of the album Liked 1 or 2 songs It is not entirely my type 2/5
Experience marred by listening to it on Youtube with ads. Bit background-music-y, not that engaging.
Too low key and too quiet for me to find any real entertainment within these grooves. 2 🌟
A drab affair, a little bit hipster, a little bit ersatz. Even when he’s opening up emotionally you still feel he’s holding back which is fine , that’s up to him, except he can’t also then sell the record on integrity. The record ends up sounding arch and contrived - I’ll reinterpret folk music for modern audiences - that’s fine, you can end up there - but you just can’t set up to do that without feeling phoney.
Alright, didn’t love it I have to say.
A bit too sterile and melancholy for its own good.
weird and meh.
Dull as ditchwater.
Quite dull I'm afraid
Not a big fan. I did bother getting to the end as not on Spotify, who do you think you are, Prince?
I don't know what to say. I don't want to piss off any Bonnie Prince Billy fans. In fact, quite the opposite, I want to piss ON Bonnie Prince Billy fans. Golden showers are back baby and I'm coming for ya.
cheer up mate. the album cover is great, he's got a cheeky little smile, but there is fucking nothing cheeky about this album. i feel like he's trying to make me walk in to the sea or off a cliff.
Tänker på Christian Kjellvander när jag hör det här. Kjellvander är bättre.
Really bad I see a darkness is ok
A few good tracks with a dark vibe, a lot of meh, and a few that annoyed me to have to listen to. 2/5
Really can’t say I enjoyed this. After 2 really good albums I couldn’t even be bothered to listen again. It didn’t hurt my ears tho’ so maybe a generous 2*
I'd not heard of the artist or heard any of the music before, and when it started and as I read the Wikipedia on it, I thought I'd probably like it because it has a lot of elements of music I tend to enjoy; however, I did not like this album. Some moments are interesting musically, but most of the time I could not shake the feeling I was listening to parody, and it felt like parody I didn't get. I tried to be open-minded and listen to as parody, I liked it even less. Cool album cover art, though.
can't access on Spotify in NZ
Weird, not quirky. Overrated. Derivative. Unlistenable.
"Madeleine-Mary" and "Song For the New Breed" were good tracks. Other than that.....meh.
Not on Spotify, so unable to listen
This experience felt like going to a restaurant where you are given some bread and butter for a starter. It's a simple but calm starter that serves a nice warmup for the flavoursome entrees, main and dessert. What if I told you that after the starter you were only served more bread, but it was more stale and bland as the evening went on, making you hate having hope before this ordeal all started. That's how I felt listening to this album. Just glad this isn't on Spotify.
not available on streaming
Not too long ago I was introduced to Will Oldham by author, educator, internet personality and awesome human, John Green. After hearing "New Partner" from Oldham's Palace Music project, I don't think anything can come close. Didn't care for this one.
Not on Spotify uk
So slow and Melancholy
It seems to be a very touching album, songs are very sad and calm, it's not bad, but it's not the style I like.
Too nick drake-esque
I remember the music papers creaming their tits about how good this album was when it came out. I think that says a lot about how low a bar music was setting itself in 1999. This was then, and still is now, a painfully dreary album.
Fucking dreary piece of shit
Ok, wasn't particularly drawn in. Oddly unharmonic.
Not really my speed
I always see this album recommended and have listened so many times but I really don't like it. It's probably a 2 normally but for the annoyance factor I'm going 1.