Bear in Heaven’s third album, I Love You, It’s Cool, released in April 2012 proved to be on first listen as non-committal and aloof as its title suggested. During their show at Hoxton Square Bar and Grill, most of Bear in Heaven’s members generally maintained this image of aloofness whilst singer Jon Philpot opted for a more genuine and instinctual reaction to the band’s sound resulting in some very interesting dance moves.
But if the rest of band weren’t moving, the Wednesday night audience were doing it for them. The band opened with the brilliant ‘‘Idle Heart,’ its engulfing bassline setting a more atmospheric and intense tone for the evening. Noted is that despite all their obvious influences, vague similarities between bands such as Animal Collective and Panda Bear and their ability to flick between conflicting genres, Bear in Heaven only ever end up sounding like themselves. Finding such originality in such a swamped area of electro-cum-synth-cum-indie-cum-rock has indeed become the main calling card of the band.
Amidst snowballing popular and critical acclaim and consequently growing stature amongst their musical contemporaries, Bear in Heaven are at the moment piquing the interest of many music fans. The show at Hoxton quickly sold out, with the usual mustachioed fans asking for spare tickets on the door. A new date has now been added in late June at Dalston’s Birthdays in response to the high demand for tickets.
As part of an original PR stunt for the release of I Love You, Its Cool, Bear in Heaven slowed down their album by almost 400,000% and streamed it on their website for 2,700 consecutive hours. One would have had to listen to the album for 4 months to listen in full, with ears full of unrelenting drone, the experience comparable to listening to an experimental Bright Eyes album opener on repeat for many hours.
Such quirky marketing ploys place Bear in Heaven in the company of many other musical experimentalists. One brings immediately to mind the Flaming Lips, whose 1997 album Zaireeka could only be listened to in its entirety upon playing four cds simultaneously on four separate audio systems. Nowadays, in the online world, it seems that such buzz-creating techniques are becoming ever more popular and more necessary than before. Decreasing attention spans have led to a greater need for creative marketing, with viral campaigns being the tool of choice for many record labels (think Contra). New technologies (such as displayed in Arcade Fire’s videos for ‘We Used To Wait’ ‘Sprawl II’) have played a large part in such changes.
Somewhat disappointingly, Bear in Heaven’s show on Wednesday night was played at the regular speed. One wonders if perhaps an application to the Guinness Book of Records for the slowest gig could allow for such an occasion. For those who may be interested, the slowed down drone version of the album can be found on the bonus disk of I Love You, It’s Cool though only in part; a two-hour segment which would no doubt provide for the perfect soundtrack for an evening of existentialist and/or insanity inducing thought.
The band finished up last Wednesday’s set with a much lauded encore, energised and sounding tighter and more to the record than before. It is fair to say that there will be in no doubt many familiar faces milling around during their next gig in Dalston, queuing up for a second dose of Bear in Heaven.