Irish electronic Duo Solar Bears have signed to Sunday Best for their new album Advancement. Their previous two releases, including the critically acclaimed Supermigration, were on Planet Mu. The pull of their new home was made all the more magnetic due to the fact that avant-garde film director David Lynch is also signed to the label. Advancement is a grand affirmation that builds on their previous genre-straddling releases that took in everything from Krautrock to library music to psychedelic electronica.
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“New Boards of Canada”. A couple of ears pricked up but in fact what Phil said was “Someone’s just bought lots of Boards of Canada’. He mumbles you see.
Almost the next best thing would be a new album by Solar Bears who are kind of Ireland's answer to Boards of Canada. Having released two previous albums on Planet Mu this is their first on Sunday Best. New label, same sun-dappled sound. After a short ambient opener comes ‘Man Plus’ which is a tight as punch in the face take on Boards style psychedelic electronica. After a breakdown that goes on just a little too long the skittering beats and cut up tronics return with some gloriously hazy mountain synths. I’ll always moan about Boards of Canada’s own beats sometimes being a but...crap really but Solar Bears at least make the effort with some nice distorted things on ‘Age: Atmonic’ which provide a bedrock for the most Boards of Canada sounds you’ve ever heard. It’s very nice but with those synth flutters I wonder if they are taking the piss out of us? ‘Scale’ meanwhile has the type of melody any self respecting Plaid fan couldn’t do without before it explodes into an Ulrich Schnauss type melody with pounding lo-end and synths like lava flowing out of a volcano.
Derivative? Yes but it is also an album of lovingly crafted, super 8 filmed, hazy electronica whilst you wait ten years for the next Boards of Canada record.
7/10 Jolyon White Customer review, 18th March 2016After spinning this a few times I've come up with some instructions for how to get the full immersive experience: 1) Turn off lights, close curtains 2) Put phone on sleep mode 3) Find comfy chair 4) Drop needle - turn volume high 5) Let your imagination run/ float wild but don't get too lost that you forget where/ who you are... This album was made over the course of a year, with fragments recorded in many different locations and spaces. They sample nature sounds and volcanoes (awesome) as they attempt to comment on the decay of the natural world. Whether or not you interpret that yourself is another thing but what you do get is sense of narrative - ups, downs, highs and lows all creating tensions in all the right places. It's synthy symphony best enjoyed in one mouthful. There is no one track to single out in my opinion - it's a true album in that way. And if you don't know Solar Bears the best comparison would be the electronic sounds of Boards of Canada or Mogwai but these guys are definitely unique and definitely worth giving your time for.
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