Το pitchfork αγαπά Volcano The Bear
«Over a distinctive 17-year career, English quartet Volcano the Bear have traversed a wide range of odd sounds and skewed songs. Their knack for marrying the absurd to the sublime places them in the eccentric lineage of art-rock bands such as the Residents, Henry Cow, This Heat, and Nurse With Wound. As with those spiritual comrades, Volcano the Bear have amassed a discography that’s easy to get lost in, and most of which is now available for free from WFMU’s excellent Free Music Archive.
What’s kept me from getting as lost in Volcano the Bear as I have in the other acts above is their tendency to sound mannered. At times they are so in control that sterility creeps in, and it feels like you’re listening to a diagram instead of a song. My favorite moments come when they get woollier and looser, letting the sound guide them rather than the other way around. And when they strike a balance between chaos and order, as they did on 2006’s epic Classic Erasmus Fusion, their work becomes profound.
Golden Rhythm/Ink Music, Volcano the Bear’s first studio album in five years, tips more toward the controlling side. As a result it sits in the middle of their oeuvre in terms of how compelling it is, and lower on the scale of surprise. Crafted by a duo version of the group (with multi-instrumentalists Aaron Moore and Daniel Padden), its more predictable moments lean too heavily on blunt rhythms, mannered vocals, and a tonally flat trumpet. When those three elements occur simultaneously, the album feels somewhat stilted.
Almost as often, though, Golden Rhythm/Ink Music finds sonic angles that are less expected. Usually this is the product of Moore and Padden giving percussion prominence over singing and trumpet-playing. Their beats acquire a junk-shop/kitchen-sink quality that evokes rattling Tom Waits grooves. Take «Baby Photos», whose off-kilter rhythm makes the duo’s vocals richer and more responsive. Even better are tunes that dart between disparate moods, be it the schizophrenic «Spurius Ruga» or sound-poems like the staccato «Quiet Salad» and the cathartic «Golden Ink».
Volcano the Bear close Golden Rhythm/Ink Music with a 10-minute cut called «Fireman Show». As the record’s longest piece, it feels like a summation, containing both unexpected tonal shifts and run-of-the-mill passages of nondescript trumpet and vocals. But the track is more intriguing than ineffective, especially when heard after what’s come before. Perhaps it’s best to think of the album that way too– not as isolated statement, but another chapter in an saga still being penned.»