Solar Bears – She Was Coloured In
Reviewed by Freddy Woodhouse Source: (craccum)
In a world that is beset by illegal wars, natural disasters and Michael Laws calibre racists, it is only natural that musicians should try to produce music chill enough to counteract a fundamentally un-chill world.
Unfortunately, most efforts have bounced off my thick, un-chill hide which has been hardened by study, angst, and the crushing disappointment of listening to bands that were thought to be chill, but were actually chronically boring. The line between these two concepts is a fine one, it seems. Though, I am happy to say that at least one band has got it right.
Solar Bears have succeeded by not really being chill at all. I am sure that at this point I have lost the attention of most chillwave fans (how can something un-chill be chill?) but I ask the more open minded among you to bare with me:
This music is ostensibly experimental electronic. It paints a coloured, textural landscape with broad brush strokes and has a meandering, improvised attention to detail that might cause you to melt in an unguarded moment. This is music with a devastatingly naïve naturalism. I call this music naïve because it seems as though any unprejudiced listener would find its “I did this in my bedroom” atmospherics highly accessible. On the other hand, this does not mean the music makes absolutely no demands. It is hard to imagine someone who likes to think of himself as fundamentally chill running his guitar flourishes through the Kraut Rock gamut while simultaneously descending into something that is unmistakably and throbbingly disco.
Listen to “Crystalline (Be Again)” and you will hear just this. The retro styling is comforting, but it is just one section of a tapestry that leaves you with this niggling – perhaps frustrating – feeling that you cannot quite explain what you have just heard. Sparse collages like “Hidden Lake” and the faintly folky “Cub” and are as evocative of anything you might find on Jewelled Antler – tracks like “Division” actually dissolve into an abrasive monotonous drone – yet it seems a logical extension of the brisk synth driven pop beats that comprise the first half hour of the album.
Yeah, it makes for an odd mood. This will probably be challenging for some people but it is incredibly rewarding and deliciously atmospheric. Most importantly of all it is incredibly chill. Not in the meat head sense though. Chill in the sense it takes the best of kraut, post punk and other melancholic and cerebral forms of music. It is chill in the same way that David Lynch can be chill. This is why, while the music is itself aiming at something that is not at all chill, it becomes one of the most accomplished exponents on this veritable philosophy. For a moment I forgot who killed Laura Palmer.
Do not listen to a word Michael Laws says. That guy is a brainless, charmless equivalent of Oswald Mosley. Just chill instead.
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