Bipolar Explorer – [Album]

Bipolar Explorer – [Album]

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Sunday, 26 June 2016
REVIEWS

Bipolar Explorer
Electric Hymnal
(Slugg Records)
I knew what I was getting into when I said that I’d like to receive a free copy of this latest release by New York City’s
BIPOLAR EXPLORER, I didn’t know how deeply into it I’d be going. My last contact with the band’s leader, Michael Serafin-Wells was last December and he mentioned that they had been working on some new pieces that were inspired by the time he’d been spending in a West End church…  I’m not so much of a church guy anymore, but I’ll shout it out loud – this new CD is just what the shaman ordered! I’ve been taken to the river and my sins have been washed away! Get ready to be swept up and away by a prayerful reverie of melodies when you listen to this CD.

Knowing Michael the way that I know him, going to church would demand that the church was a pretty cool place. It’d have to be the kinda church that “I” would go to. It’d have to be fresh and revitalizing for old souls like us that have been around for a while. So I anticipated that the energy of the sounds he’d incorporate into this new music would be reverential, but I also knew that he’d keep it true to the mood and atmosphere created in the band’s other albums.

I listened to the CD for the first time on a drive into San Francisco – careening above the bay on  the San Mateo bridge and I began to feel like I was flying. These songs could be considered prayers. They in some cases are renditions of scriptures put to music, but other times they really do feel like they are prayers. The lyrics are not shouted, for the most part, but are breathed and whispered with reverential respect. I was inside my physical vehicle’s (body and car) but the music instantly elevated my spirit.

So a lot of thoughts ran through my mind while advancing track by track. This music IS prayer, it IS worship, it IS what rock music would sound like if Jesus were alive and on stage leading his followers into trances and meditations where he took his flock to places only he could see and imagine. This album could be a tutorial for hip Christian churches that have rock bands that lead their members in sing-alongs on Sunday mornings, but more so, the thing here is that a barrier is being crossed by Bipolar Explorer’s method. The spirit of Christ is awakened and those that listen and sing along will be taken to those places that Christ sees.

Okay, okay, getting a bit religious sounding here, forgive me. There is something else happening with these melodies. Don’t forget that Bipolar Explorer is a post-rock band. This music is just as secular and for the ears of the non-religious as it is for the “saved”.  Imagine that Jesus were alive in the flesh today, and imagine putting an electric guitar into his hands. This is the kind of music he would make. Low growling vocals, gnarly grinding tempos, rhythmic looping strands that help him escape and rise above the weight of this world. This is how he would take us all into trances that helped us see heaven, to find ways to escape our worldly woes.

That these lyrics are esoteric and spiritual is how they are able to soothe us and raise up our consciousness. I think that there is a lot of healing that can come from listening to this music and I’m a little bit bothered that it is not intended to reach mass distribution. The band’s decision to make this a “love offering” is noble, but how many in the world will it actually reach. Possibly a second pressing of the CD will make the band consider making it available online. I think I’m going to end up passing my copy along to someone I know, a young person that leads one of these hip Christian church’s music department so that he can become inspired to play a little bit differently, a little bit deeper, a little bit more mysteriously so that a more powerful understanding of the presence can be spread further. (This also reminds of the works of Nikos Kazantzakis; The Last Temptation of Christ, and Saint Francis – a non secular approach was taken to deliver the message of their saintly lives without it being ordained by the religious order. A humanistic delivery of an understanding of their lives was written, and thus reached a wider audience. This music feels like that, a post-rock interpretation of worship music for the modern age, and typical non-believers.

P.S. In regard to my comments about the CD not being mass-marketed the band has stated very clearly that this music is offered up “as a meditation and sonic prayer for our fallen bandmate, Michael’s true love and partner, Summer Serafin.” I highly respect this because it makes the music real in a different way. It makes it feel live. Being limited to a very special audience makes it feel, rare. It goes straight to heaven where the angels are listening, and connects us here on the earthly plane to this private listening room where angels and the living mingle.

If you would like a copy of ELECTRIC HYMNAL, contact Bipolar Explorer through their website http://www.bipolarexplorer.info. To help them out with costs, they are requesting people send them a SASE, which is only fair considering you get the CD for free. It’s a limited edition, so act quickly!

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