Volcano The Bear - "The Inhazer Decline"
(United Dairies 1999, UD 055CD)
From Aural Innovations #9 (January 2000)
Volcano The Bear is a British quartet whose instrumental music pushes well beyond the boundaries of space, electronica, and avant experimental music in general. The band's ties to spacerock can be traced to Faust and other Krautrock pioneers but beyond that the band will likely put The Residents and other such iconoclasts high on their list of influences. Faust is actually a good reference point for AI readers. The band consists of Laurence Coleman, Aaron Moore, Nick Mott, and Daniel Padden. No instrumentation is listed but I hear drums, guitar, violin, synths, and perhaps some horns and cello. I'll bet there's plenty more.
Strings and electronics share equal billing across the album's 12 tracks. The music is certainly freeform experimental and much of it may be improvised, though several tracks have a composed feel. There are some vocals I really liked that sound like a ringer for Robert Wyatt, both in sound and singing style. Other vocals include Residents-style odd voicings and screaming. The music is difficult, as you can imagine with references like Faust and The Residents, but it's not difficult in a dissonant, inaccessble way. Well... most of it anyway. Parts reminded me of spacey avant chamber music with strings playing simple but effective lines while synths and other instruments produce additional noises and sounds. There's also some great acid-noise guitar lines that sounded like a cross between Robert Fripp and SubArachnoid Space. This had an odd effect on me as this aggressive guitar sound is accompanied by pulsating but meditative atmospherics.
In summary, adventurous listeners who like Krautrock's more deranged moments and 'take no prisoners' experimenters like The Residents would like Volcano The Bear. If you want to get your feet wet first try the Turn Century Turn compilation on Mother West Records that has not only a Volcano The Bear track but some similar bands as well.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz