Review: Bear In Heaven – I Love You, It’s Cool

BEAR IN HEAVEN
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Bear In Heaven
I Love You, It’s Cool
out on 4.3
MP3 | CD | Vinyl | Stream
B+

Before you read any further, you must click here. At first glance, it’s just another band website complete with press accolades, links to myriad social media platforms and a menagerie of amorphous shapes competing for seemingly infinite space. That ominous humming that cuts on the instant you hit the site is the enigmatic draw though. In fact, it’s their entire new album, the first one they’ve written and produced as a three-piece, digitally decelerated to 400,000 times its original recorded speed. Mockumentaries make this entire process laughably daunting — as seen here.

Jon Philpot, a Brooklyn refugee via the ATL, has been at the helm of a drastic evolution over the past decade. In 2003 BIH was Philpot’s solo engine, incorporating the incongruous moniker from a literal or perhaps figurative interpretation of the album cover for Tunes Nextdoor to Songs. Thanks to an almost surreal Take-Away Show cramped inside a van in Manhattan, you can see just how deep their instrumental chops truly are.

Now with longtime bassist/keys player Sadek Bazarra leaving to focus on his graphic design ambitions (which have found their way into many a BIH project) they are tasked with navigating the “spiky psych-prog tendencies” and “Southern rock spirit” spectrum bestowed by critics with one less astronaut.  

Joe Stickney’s ultra present drums ground their Kraftwerk modulations with stunning fluidity. You can hear distortions to his kit on opener “Idle Heart”, an up-tempo soarer that extrapolates Philpot’s tenor to the next dimension. Initially the cans have a straight-forward slightly bellicose timbre that becomes impossibly mangled halfway through into muffled flat strikes which feel shockingly vibrant and vivid. Attribute that effect to the atmospherics dashing and diving in and out of the background. But all those bells and whistles would carry little to no gravitas without Stickney’s “Southern spirit.”

Sensual single “The Reflection of You” is without a doubt the most uplifting Tangerine Dream sound-a-like this side of M83. Not saying that it holds a candle to “Midnight City” majesty, but it invokes a silver screen nightclub scene from 1983, much like the PFFR produced video recently released. I can’t say enough about the keys. Those plush plastic rectangles adeptly plunge your respective heart strings into sheer decadence when they illuminate simple verses “Look into my eyes/You see the reflection of you/In me/On me” and “Here I am/There you are/Just inches away.” Without the rich arrangements melding together to bolster the mood of the moment, the essence of the song, then they would likely  wither away.

A darker cloud begins to loom over once we reach track number four “Sinful Nature.” Initial looping crystalline intonations feel almost as alien as a fusion reactor from the year 2347. Stickney’s drums are dialed back considerably to make room for the beams of galactic sound cutting through the entire fabric of whatever world we’ve just entered. Occasional breaks and lapses in the calamity allow for more traditional guitar chords to ruminate among the stars. As clandestine as this strained love feels, we can all share in its primal desire to feed on the obsessions churning inside of each and every one of us.

“Kiss Me Crazy” is just as aurally arresting as the rest, but tends to stay in one gear when it’s evident that they have a wide range of speeds to showcase. Steering more toward a mid-tempo orbit, “Warm Water” is quite a bit more brooding and lower key than anything else on this compilation. Once you’re cruising along with no apparent break in sight, a sudden pause allows Philpot to painfully build the keys up to earth shattering anticipation. Once you reach the zenith of tension Stickney’s drums emerge — a musical Charon for your descent back down to reality.

Here’s the band’s recommended method for listening: “I would say to hear it really, really loud on your home stereo on vinyl and you should probably buy the two terrabyte hard drive that has our entire slowed-down record on it, play that at the same time, drink a lot of Red Bulls, and jump out of a window.” As your trusted album critic I advise you not to heed the latter half of their instructions. This album indeed demands a very large space, and any hallucinogen of your choosing.

Stream ‘I Love You, It’s Cool’ in its entirety here.

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