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Volcano the Bear & La STPO - The Shy Volcanic Society at the Bear and Bird Para [Beta-lactam Ring Records - 2009]

Oh, this. This. This is a roaring, screeching, droning, clanking, yammering, blabbering, yacking, rattling, thundering, droning, whooping, booming, hollering, blatting, honking thing of beauty. All two halves of it.

First, there’s the Volcano the Bear half, and if you are not familiar with the Bear then I strongly recommend you educate yourself pronto. None other than Steve Stapleton of Nurse with Wound discovered and curated them. They’ve since been bewildering and fascinating people on multiple continents with a sound that channels any number of hints of musical styles through a shambling improvisatory framework. That’s precisely what they do on their tracks, where they invoke the gods and more than a few demons in a way that bristles hairs far coarser than any I might have. It’s exactly the kind of creepy séance-in-the-middle-of-the-dark-forest vibe that Harappian Night Recordings tried (and in my opinion failed) to summon on their own disc, and the Bear not only summon it but let it stagger around with blood smeared all over its chops.

I was not at all familiar with La Société Des Timides À La Parade Des Oiseaux, but after this disc I know now I’ve been missing out. They come on like the missing link between John Zorn’s Naked City (the sides that featured Yamatsuka Eye screaming and blabbering his happy little face off) and a bass-explosion fueled Magma side project. The level of nail-biting tension these guys generate over their six, eight, and nine-minute multi-partite squirm-scream-and-slam mini-epics is enough to fuel any ten Hitchcock films, and maybe a few Dario Argentos to boot.

The timing for me popping in this disc could not have been more apt. There I was, with this album in one hand—a split effort, with Volcano the Bear sharing time with La Société Des Timides À La Parade Des Oiseaux (something like “The Company of Wallflowers at The Parade Of Birds” if my command of high-school French isn’t screwing me over)—and in the other, the Los Angeles Free Music Society’s Unboxed compilation. There are more than casual comparisons to be drawn between VtB / LSdTalPdO and L.A.F.M.S.—not just the free-form way they devour their influences and spit them back out again in nigh-unrecognizable gobs, but the oddball humor, too. This whole disc is like one great big black joke that you don’t dare laugh at for fear of being cut to shreds for your insolence … which, come to think of it, is pretty funny all by itself.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Serdar Yegulalp
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