Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Volcano The Bear - The Idea Of Wood (2003)
A surreal band name for a surreal group. Volcano The Bear is comprised of four British oddballs who delight in creating mostly improvised chamber pieces that will leave all but the most seasoned listener scratching his head.
With most improvisational ensembles, you basically know what you're getting. It's either going to be a standard jazz band or a set of four or five instruments that remain constant over the lifetime of the group. Not so here. Drums, whistles, flutes, violins, guitars, bells, strange falsetto vocals, electronics and countless other, less easily identifiable instruments make up the color tapestry of sound that comprises this album.
While there's nothing jazzy about the group, there is a certain undertone reminiscent of English folk music, and there are times when you can almost picture the rolling green hills and picturesque countryside of the musicians' native land, albeit through a pretty strange lens.
The song titles are also a hoot, and include such imaginative gems as "Charming Cabbage Clock", "Chimney Fear" and "Curly Robot," the latter clocking in at over ten minutes in length and marking the highlight of the album.
I should note in passing that I have seen this band perform live, and they are just as much fun as you might expect. I recommend it if you have the opportunity.