Ghosts – Mr Dog The Bear (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

22308787_979491262205802_8608101021869377211_nYou can trust Mr Dog The Bear to take an unusual approach to releasing an album. Normally, as a reviewer, I receive an intangible link to the album’s on line home, if I’m lucky I get a physical version through the post. But Mr Dog The Bear has always been about music built around a visual aspect, cinematic and wide screen in its scope it has always felt more like a film score or a soundtrack than a conventional music release. Which is why, and I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, the new album arrived as a series of videos, as visual representations of the sonic emotions being created.

Previous releases have often felt like an ambient band testing deeper waters, gentle, understated and restrained but with glorious crescendos of music threaded through as they occasionally leave the safety of the shallows behind. Ghosts, however, is the sound of full immersion and opening salvo All These Constant Reminders draws a line of intent which is hard to ignore. Growing from familiar slow burning grace it eventually takes the listener to a place where dramatic post-rock walls of sound and exquisite symphonic sweeps are the norm.


And something else that they previously only toyed with but now forms an integral part of the sound is vocals, Wait being a more conventional pop-rock groover with classical undertones, Eleutheria a dark and brooding piece with modern indie vocal deliveries and Fireflies calls back to their earlier Cocteau Twins infused haze. Apostrophe combines the conventional wisdom of song structure with the left field thinking that we have come to expect, commercial enough to be popular, cultish enough to be cool and the title track is a slow, mercurial piano piece, the perfect contrast of space and intensity to wrap the album up.

Watching Mr Dog The Bear grow over the last few years has been a joy. They have been a band..project…collaboration…I still don’t really know what they are, that has subverted expectation at every turn and in their solitary and masked way made music for all the right reasons, that is, for their own sake. The results, of which this album is the perfect summation, show that you don’t have to follow fashion, advice, trend or zeitgeist, that the best and indeed the most original music is that which just naturally flows from the creative soul. A lesson more people could probably do with learning!

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Fireflies – Mr. Dog The Bear (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

FirefliesI received some new music from dreamscape collective Mr. Dog The Bear today and was driven to issue the following warning.

I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for kickstarter funding I can tell you I don’t have money, but what I do have is a very particular set of words. Words I have acquired over a very long career. Words that make me a nightmare for musicians like you. If you stop sending me your digital links that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you, but if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you and I will describe your music in the most pretentious way possible.

Thankfully my longwinded and verbose approach somehow seems appropriate for this music, not that there is anything longwinded or verbose about the music, but sometimes those everyday words just don’t cut it. New release Fireflies may be woven from their usual complex and shifting, intangible and sonorous threads, a blend of post-rock, dream-pop and classical sounds, but this time it comes with a new card to play, vocals!

Up until now the sound of Mr. Dog The Bear has been one of purely instrumental expression but here a fragile and soothing female voice dances just out of earshot, adding waves of vocal mist rather than anything more defined and thereby working as one more layer of instrumentation instead of taking a more traditional lyrical role. As always the end result is perfect and would not feel out of place on a My Bloody Valentine or Moon and Pollution album and that’s about as good as it gets for me.

 

 

Sharks and Butterflies – Mr Dog The Bear (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

10934034_599048866916712_5518602514435830681_nWe have speculated, postulated and discussed who might be behind the enigmatic Mr Dog The Bear but to no avail. But whilst the identity of the composer might have eluded us thus far, the beauty and sheer creativity of the music hasn’t. Like all of the best music it is not easily tied down or labelled and the best analogy I can think of is that this full length album is like a train journey across a continent, where the countries you pass through are musical genres and the landscape constantly changes, often subtly but occasionally with stark, dramatic consequence.

If the teaser e.p. I am Jack’s Broken Heart, wasn’t alluring enough, Sharks and Butterflies is the full story and if possible pushes the dynamic even further. Its blending of post-rock structures, classical grandeur, sweeping cinematic cascades and soaring, spiralling crescendos are even more breath-taking, even more heart-wrenchingly beguiling, even more…well, just more.

Without the limitation of words, the music paints pictures and suggests scenes and scenarios that are limited only by the listener’s imagination, irrespective of the composer’s intentions, you are the interpreter here, this is your dream. In just one listen I saw galaxies dying and being reborn, ancient city streets, I viewed the world from the top of mountains and I swam in its deepest oceans. All that and I hadn’t even had breakfast yet.

This is the sound track of the universe and everything in it from the massive to the minuscule, the solid to the intangible, the past and the possible: the music is just a guide, a door to memory, a key to unlock the innermost corners of the subconscious, how rewarding that journey is, is largely down to the limitations or otherwise of the listener.

Mr Dog The Bear announce debut album release

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Following the critical success of the e.p. I Am Jacks Lonely Heart, the enigmatic Mr Dog The Bear have announced that a full album release under the title of Sharks and Butterflies is due for early 2016.

Released on the playdead music label and retaining its reserved approach towards any facts behind the artist or band behind it, Mr Dog The Bear are a fascinating concept, one that we described as

A series of instrumental statements that conjure scenes and scenarios of a fleeting cinematic memory or a glimpse of the future. Ranging from atmospheric minimalism, though slow-burning post-rock dynamic builds, to soaring anthemic crescendos, it covers a lot of ground even within each individual track.

You can hear a preview of the e.p. HERE

I Am Jack’s Broken Heart – Mr Dog The Bear (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

12033030_527459910742275_448425819598850996_nWho is Mr Dog The Bear? It is the product of two Italian college friends. It is the sideline project of a famous musician maintaining their anonymity. It is the experimentation of a group of Japanese students. It is the secret communication between two ostracised Americans. It is based on truth, it is all a lie, it is none of the above and it is not what you think. I love the fact that even the small amount of on-line information the band/artist/studio/project has is clearly a smokescreen. But I do know that maybe if we stopped fixating on the people who make music, their every move and utterance and just embraced their product we might be in an altogether better place culturally speaking.

I Am Jack’s Broken Heart is the soundtrack to a film that is yet to be made or maybe one that exists in the head of each person listening to it. A series of instrumental statements that conjure scenes and scenarios of a fleeting cinematic memory or a glimpse of the future. Ranging from atmospheric minimalism, though slow-burning post-rock dynamic builds, to soaring anthemic crescendos, it covers a lot of ground even within each individual track.

It is music based on mood rather than message, music that depicts scenes rather than tells stories, music about images rather than ideas. It is music of the isolation tank, just exist within it, become one with it, heavy meditation, a solitary experience. Some music is aimed at the brain, intelligent and intricate, some at the heart, emotive and alluring, Mr Dog The Bear does nothing less than aim for your very soul.

Who is Mr Dog The Bear? Who cares, just listen.

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