Published Dec 04, 2015Being England's best-kept secret for 20 years has been the only constant in the career of Leicester quartet Volcano the Bear. Daniel Padden, Nick Mott, Aaron Moore and Clarence Manuelo have been plodding along under the radar, issuing a steady stream of surreal, humour-infused avant-garde post-punk, weird folk and free jazz since the mid-1990s. The group utilize traditional instruments (trumpet, saxophone, clarinet, guitar, drums), tapes, electronics, their voices and a host of noise-making implements to craft an environment akin to that of Faust, if they were possessed by the spirits of Albert Ayler and Captain Beefheart.
Aiming to craft a music without boundaries, the group's discography spans multiple official releases for labels such as Stephen Stapleton's United Dairies, as well as around 16 short-run cassettes and CD-Rs unleashed on their own Volucan imprint. Their output should be considered essential listening to fans of the esoteric British underground from decades of yore.
Commencing is a retrospective five-LP box set that collects unreleased music, tracks from the early Volucan releases and live recordings that span the group's career. Released to coincide with Volcano the Bear's 20th anniversary, the set serves as a complete album in its own right, with each disc encapsulating a broad spectrum of the group's hydra-headed palette. There are jaunty romps, free jazz squealing, gorgeous ballads and an endless supply of humour.
Arriving complete with a lengthy book filled with stories, pictures and fliers, and swaddled in a beautiful silk-screened box, Commencing is essential for fans of the band and a real treat for neophytes looking for the perfect port of entry into the bizarre world of this talented and underrated musical entity. (Miasmah)