Volcano The Bear is a brilliantly and seriously messed-up british band blending improvisation from Mars, sailors’ folk, acousmatic music and dadaist rock in a weird but efficient mix. I’ve read Golden Rhythm/Ink Music is their first studio album in six years, which would imply its direct predecessor is the magnificent Classic Erasmus Fusion (2006, on Beta-lactam Ring Records). Let us not forget Volcano The Bear also has published, during this six-year period, live recordings (Egg And Two Books), more or less obscure cd-r (Grande Pfungst), ultra-limited vinyls (Volrudolf), salutary reissues (such as The Mountain Among Us) and oldies’ compilations (Catonapotato) – besides, the excellent Admidst The Noise And Twist (2007, on Beta-lactam Ring again) also is a proper album.
Liner notes inform us that parts of Golden Rhythm/Ink Music has been recorded in 2008 at the Grim in Marseille: Volcano The Bear is a band who know how to take their time. So yes, Golden Rhythm/Ink Music is a true studio album, published by the well-recognized experimental music label Rune Grammofon. The artwork of Kim Hiortøy is for that matter a doomed-to-failure attempt to conciliate the visual identity of previous Volcano The Bear releases with minimal and austere aesthetics of the Norvegian label. It doesn’t prevent Golden Rhythm/Ink Music from being a very accomplished album.
It is also the most openly influenced by This Heat, and we won’t complain about that. Aaron Moore and Daniel Padden – assisted by some pataphysical interventions of the irreplaceable Clarence Manuelo, too bad he’s not touring with the band anymore – pay a beautiful tribute to the music of Charles Bullen, Gareth Williams and Charles Hayward, but they do it in their own way, with a humour and a finesse which belong to no one else but them. Buffalo Shoulder, then the terrific Baby Photos, the first two tracks of the album, are the best achieved from this point of view.
However, contrary to This Heat, Volcano The Bear exclude all traces of confrontation and urbanity in order to privilege their own musical language (moreover, one can sometimes wonder in what language the band is singing), with a penchant for the incongruous, the unexpected and the uncontrollable that so many others haven’t managed to shape.
Just like their shows, the band’s recordings aren’t devoid of a few wavering moments, due to abrupt and sudden bifurcations. However, what we’ll retain above all is the farcical terror, leading to an unfeigned melancholy which, in turn, has to be diverted. Let’s get rid of concepts and assumptions, and just listen to the wonderful Fireman Show.
Volcano The Bear – Fireman Show (Right click/Save as)
Volcano The Bear – Baby Photos
Get the album here.
(This post was first written in French. Approximate translation by Clémentine)