Bipolar Explorer is the cheerily-named project of NYC dynamic duo Summer Serafin and Michael Serafin-Wells. As ever on Slugg Records, Sometimes in Dreams is their seventh album - and they made this one a double. The pair specialise in shoegazy dream-rock, blending sung lyrics with poetry and spoken word to convey tender affection, warmth and also great tragedy and sadness.
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Sheesh. So much tragedy around in music at the moment. Bipolar Explorer were happily toddling along as a duo making dislocated post rock and shoegaze when co-founder Summer Serafin passed away suddenly in 2011. Bravely her bandmate and partner Michael Serafin-Wells has continued the project as a tribute and this is a double album splurge that continues what they started and often uses Summer's spoken word and vocals.
It's unusual in that the music is very scattershot (recorded 'in a hurry' according to the sleeve notes). There's barely any band dynamics and so the album drifts along the similar kind of bliss out path as the likes of Yellow6 and Landing but sometimes bursts quite poppily into song. 'Building the Shrine' in particular reappropriates the chords from 'Since You've Been Gone' for better purpose and unlike a lot of shoegaze the vocals are quite up front and reasonably free of effects and murk. A lot of the pieces feature spoken word and as a result I've seen the band compared to a cross between Slowdive and Laurie Anderson which I think is quite an accurate summation.
Unlike the former though, the band are less about creating utter beauty and instead there's an edginess to the way this is put together. You are never quite sure if it's going to fall apart and therein lies the appeal. There are plenty gems in this 2CD sprawl but it will make you work for them.
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- Sometimes In Dreams by Bipolar Explorer
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