Volcano the Bear Catonapotato

[Digitalis Industries / Broken Face; 2005]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: experimental jazz-rock, sound exploration
Others: irr. app. (ext)

Is there a food more delightful than cotton candy? I'll be damned if there is. I mean, I enjoy a more substantial, say, gyro than a wad of cotton candy, but I'd be remiss to say it's more delightful. The frivolousness and airiness just smack of dee-lite! Surprised to hear that Volcano the motherfucking cutesy Bear is more gyro than cotton candy? So was I, after having their cheery little name bouncing around at the edge of my consciousness for quite some time. Then I saw that your grandpa's favorite avant-gardener and professed Snoop Dogg fan Nurse With Wound had worked somewhat extensively with them. What an endorsement! So, I endeavored to check out their catalog (read: wishlist "volcano bear"), and I consistently liked what I heard. Not earth-smashing, but good enough to get a few spins, and that ain't no easy task, boy buttfuckin' howdy! Lucky for these sodden Britons, I ran across Catonapotato before I committed an "if you're into this sort of thing" endorsement to paper. Something was different about this release from what I'd been hearing. It had more vitality.

It wasn't until I made up my mind to review this album that I semi-unconsciously discovered that it's a live album. To wit, I'm not even sure the other stuff I've listened to isn't live. That doesn't change that I'll credit the difference to it being live. Besides, it makes this review easier to write! Now for less public confessional and more review: Volcano the Bear is one of those tough-to-pin-down acts. Alternatively drone-y and folk-y and jazz-y, they able-y mesh them into a cohesive to-do; and always with a big helping of atmosphere and space. That's where I reckon the live aspect makes them shine. Not to mention unhinging themselves. This is an act that plays for, and to, the audience and their own momentary mood, letting the pacing and dynamics more organically dictate themselves. Being largely drum- and wind-instrument-driven, this is very much like a sleepy jazz band laying out a core for a pastiche of sound. Vocals come and go, cellos ruminate, and a host of various instruments alternatively lead and follow. Some songs are outright free-jazz jams, others are slow dirges to fill whatever hollows they find. In the end, heck, it's evocative music. And, well, if you're into inventive jazz/rock, this hot (catona)potato would be right up your alley! (SHIT!)

1. Gabriel
2. A Universal History of Infamy
3. Lovely Shepherd
4. Puppy Grill
5. My Favourite Tongues
6. Ong Pate
7. sharp as the Queens Teeth
8. The God's are Massive