Volcano the Bear
Nightlight, Chapel Hill
Wednesday, Nov. 22, 10 p.m.
with Felt Battery and Feral Pony
If Leicester, England's Volcano the Bear were called anything less pyro-power oriented, verbs like raze, splinter and consume would apply. But the name-as-metaphor path is a slippery slope, and, here, it's especially dubious, as they seem more about burning things (yay on the volcano) than being burly (nay the bear).
Still, the band—guitars, bass, drums, homemade instruments, strings, electronics, percussion, bows, voices, things that drone, things that don't—is the kind of highly eclectic, ultra-erudite excursion that recalls downtown Manhattan in 1962. Original Velvet Underground drummer Angus MacLise—who once composed an entirely brilliant film score by improvising ferociously with a cymbalum, a Central European instrument related to the dulcimer—would have loved this band. It borrows from the downtown aesthetic of free-form, without-bound exploration he epitomized, but Volcano ties it to the new instant-knowledge-at-hand paradigm that began to dominate global information and though not long before the band formed in 1996.
Indeed, The Inhazer Decline—originally issued as an edition of six (not a typo) CDR's in 1998, but reissued in truncated form by United Diaries in 2000—is one of this decade's most sublime espousals of the modern weird, precisely because it pulls from so many of its predecessors in such a seamless way. Maybe it's the bear, after all, that has fed on products of the Japanese PSF psychedelic circuit, early American minimalism and the British industrial progenitors. Or perhaps we can just agree that the volcano flows freely and absorbs and transforms everything in its path, vaporizing vocals and letting them fly to the sky through a shamanic-keyed revelry. They rebuild jazz drumming by dismantling it into the tiniest bits, melting and reassembling. Again, apologies if that sounds an awful lot like something lava would do.