Earlier this year, Old Georgia friends Hometapes and Bear In Heaven started talking about the future. It was winter, Hometapes was hiding in the mountains somewhere, and a link to a new record showed up in their email box. After sneaking into a ski instructor’s lodge just to download and hear it, the future was writ. Hometapes presents to you: Bear In Heaven and their debut album “Red Bloom of the Boom.”
Once the solo brainchild (circa 1998) of Atlanta-native Jon Philpot with a debut EP “Tunes Nextdoor to Songs” on Eastern Developments, Bear In Heaven has spent the last four years expanding into a full-fledged band. Now comprised of Philpot (Presocratics, Savath and Savalas, and, interestingly, editor of Wonder Showzen), Adam Wills (Rhys Chatham’s Essentialist and Guitar Trio, Jonanthan Kane’s February, and Paul Duncan), Joe Stickney (also of Rhys Chatham’s Essentialist, Paul Duncan, as well as part time tour duty with Panthers), and Sadek Bazarra (designer with the venerable Graphic Havoc Visual Agency), Bear In Heaven has taken on the magic of many hands, not to mention a (super)group of longtime friends.
“Red Bloom of the Boom” marks the in-between moment of Jon Philpot’s solo explosion becoming a full band’s orchestra of sound. “We started clean and natural and as time passed we twisted, distorted and tweaked. After all that we’re as handsome as ever,” says Philpot, in a simple-yet-accurate explanation of the monster of a band that Bear In Heaven, unassumingly walking the streets of Brooklyn, has so suddenly, but deliberately, become.
The music: Philpot’s voice is daydream-and-goosebump-inducing. It glides over walls of melodious distortion, building songs that are unapologetically epic. It is pleasure protracted, climaxes flashing well into songs that are complete sonic sentences. It testifies to psychedelic roots, to the music that we obsessed over in the 90s, and to absolute “future rock.” Bear In Heaven is indeed deserving of a new descriptor.
The album is a timeline, according to Philpot, as well as an exercise in collaboration: “The group’s core formed after a version of ‘Shining and Free’ was recorded. Our pal Gerry Fuchs (Turing Machine, !!!, Maserati) played drums on that song. Once Joe [Stickney, drummer] was onboard we went ahead with the others...We did ‘Werewolf’ and ‘Slow Gold’ at Sean Maffuci’s studio. We we’re able use his MU-tron, old pre-amps, tape echo and zero gravity chamber...There are guest singers...Alley [Alejandra Deheza of School of Seven Bells], Paul Duncan, Eva [Eva Puyelo Muns of Savath & Savalas]: amazing folks.” Intra-band admiration continues with guitarist Adam Wills commenting that once-solo Philpot “brought a lot to the table as far as being able to let his own material go, to adapt it/edit it/change it/delete it/re-write over the course of a year in order to make it perfect.”
Almost as difficult to wrangle onto a stage as they are to describe, Bear In Heaven has made a few appearances in and around NY, playing with everyone from neighborhood peers Paul Duncan and Coyote to indie household name The National. They’ll be revealing themselves once again this Fall in honor of the release of “Red Bloom of the Boom” and in anticipation for what’s next. From what we hear, the next album is almost finished.
released October 26, 2012
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