Album Reviews

Music You Don't Know You Like Yet

BEAR IN HEAVEN

Time Is Over One Day Old

2014-08-13

FCC TRACKS: #7 "Demon", #10 "You Don't Need The World"

Ever since I first heard the glitchy, cinematic anthem "You Do You" from 2009's Beast Rest Forth Mouth, Bear In Heaven's music has felt suffocating to me, like driving down a steadily narrowing interstate at night with headlights streaking past you with your only option to be inevitably squeezed into oblivion. Something about the band's often grimy synthetic textures along with pulsating, driving beats lurking just below the surface always hearkened back to a claustrophobic feeling, some sort of neon-lit, foreboding atmosphere, kind of like a noir film in technicolor. Although this general aesthetic has been crafted by dozens of other likeminded "indie-synthpop-electro" outfits, BIH seems to be able to successfully create this sound more directly, with a lack of frills or overlayering. However I've always wished they could venture into slightly more melodic (you could probably go so far as to even say "accessible") fare while still retaining that creepy yet spaced out, bliptastic vibe.

Time Is Over One Day Old is the Brooklyn band's fourth full-length, and their second release on Dead Oceans. With only two of the original members--frontman Jon Philpot and guitarist Adam Wills, joined by session drummer Jason Nazary--Bear In Heaven's downgrade to a three piece from a quartet in no way contributes to a smaller sound. In fact, they sound larger than ever. The first three tracks are a good representation of BIH's credo: album opener "Autumn" with its driving beat and Philpot's vocals beatifically echoing over a wall of synths; the following "Time Between" with its similarly aggressive drums and the distressed, repeated chorus of "falling out" having Philpot sounding like Thomas Mars on a bad trip; "If I Were To Lie" featuring a pretty sweet tightly coiled yet bubbly bass line, swelling until the end of the song when it becomes slightly more chaotic with a busier atmosphere and some distorted guitar riffs whizzing about. But my favorite track on the record is #4, "They Dream." This is because at first, it's typical BIH fare: forceful, dissonant, and a mounting tension that leaves you wondering where it's all going. But then, 2 minutes and 2 seconds in, Nazary's drumming ceases, and the sonic cacophony fades into nothingness. And what replaces it is, to me, glorious: a soft, floating ambience suspended behind Philpot at his most gentle, with an equally subdued bass line and beat guiding it all along. This is probably the first time that listening to BIH has felt serene, sublime even.

Other good tracks are "Memory Heart" and "Way Off." I would avoid "The Sun and The Moon and The Stars" and "Dissolve The Walls," as they seem to go nowhere and are generally pretty boring.

Recommended Tracks: #1 "Autumn", #3 "If I Were To Lie", #4 "They Dream"

Sig Steiger

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Compiled by the WYCE Journalism Club

The opinions expressed in these reviews are those of the individual volunteers that submitted the article and do not necessarily reflect the views of WYCE or GRCMC; nor its staff, donors, or affiliates.