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1.
(spoken word): An hour ago, you were born A century in time Sixty seconds in our own You found me shortly thereafter Forever after And one. For today was yesterday And all that went before Is yet to come. An hour ago, you were born A century in time Sixty seconds in our own I found you shortly thereafter Forever after And one. For today was yesterday And all that went before Is yet to come.
2.
Either Side 01:25
(spoken word): Adrift Unmoored between life and the Other In the bustling silence there Wherever it was She heard his voiceless, anxious thoughts And in kindness Gently turned him back
3.
Infinity Hall Watch my thoughts alight before me On a flight departure board Infinity Hall So scared I couldn’t see, couldn’t find you where you are Now I know it wasn’t time yet And I didn’t get that far Infinity Hall Course correct me Let your shining lights re-direct me To the other half of my soul Infinity Hall There in the darkness Where I find that I can’t speak In the place I thought we’d meet Somewhere strange, unfound, in sleep And I know I’ve been here before And her love and grace and kindness Rain on down on me They redound to me Forever more
4.
(spoken word) Angels and mortals In the inner silence In the pain of the world Its weight Filling our hearts In sorrow With love Our minds with wonder Our very essence with fire. For Love, Kind and mercifully forgetful Does not remember our failures Our flailing All that we cannot forgive ourselves Is taken She pries it, silently, from our fevered grip As we lay asleep Blessing us The tapes erased The slate made clean. When we cannot find our way Can find no star Can see no light Nothing In the shrouded, blackened heavens Full of blood and judgment And below Under heavy walls Like a beacon She re-illumines, she Fills in all the colors
5.
Anthem 5 06:26
Hours of darkness But can’t sleep The love I give you Is yours to keep Dreams of flight Where we glide and leap Dreams of you When I wake, I weep And tho’ sorrow finds me I know you’re alive Deep inside Help to guide me Oh! Days alone and unending Nothing heals, nothing’s mending Days so lonely I’m bending Toward the light you keep sending But tho’ sorrow finds me I know you’re alive Deep inside Help to guide me - oh! Hours of darkness Before I sleep The love we shared Is still ours to keep Dreams of you Where we fly and leap Dreams of you When I wake, I weep But tho’ sorrow finds me I know you’re alive Deep inside Help to guide me Oh!
6.
In Spiritu 08:19
7.
Emergent 06:52
Higher Seek you, higher And I don’t know Bereft of breath, where the rest of us goes. Ten minutes gone No fog of glass In memories pane Ever lost, ever last In extremis In alarm On the phone Left in fear Left in tears Left in silence alone Higher, seek you, higher And I don’t know Bereft of breath Where the rest of us goes. Spirit hovers above astride Fragile and burning and longing to rise Enshrouded in clouds, the veil of sky Parting, emergent, just now from on high The time comes, the time is gone The time is not what we believe - the time is one Inside the forever not fearing death’s sleep There’s more to be known I know I must seek you higher And I don’t know Bereft of breath Where the rest of us goes. Ten minutes gone, no fog of glass In memories pane Ever lost, ever last In extremis, in alarm, on the phone Left in fear, left in tears Left in silence alone Spirit hovers above astride Fragile and burning and longing to rise Enshrouded in clouds, the veil of sky Parting, emergent, just now from on high Higher, seek you higher Higher
8.
Back to You 02:53
Our phantom life Hear its whispers, there Reach exceeding my grasp Heed the saints there that call me Light the sky’s way Light the path That takes me Back to you Find the shadow way forward Hidden from all but we To be found Guided by faith Guided by truth Guided by love Toward the sound Inside a dream Where the message Holy as song Encrypted comes clear Guided by the secret folds of time Laid open Guided oh so near Guided back to you
9.
10.
(spoken word): Something quiet Unseen But known somehow Familiar from some half-forgotten life awaking ethereal remembrance A feeling growing, glowing inside Deep within the well of our chest “Do you know it?”, she asks - Connects us. Through time, it finds us Across epochs Astride ages To guide To heal Stirring us in spite of ourselves Against our own misguided will Powerfully Protectively Certain. At our side in an invisible instant Vanishing again Before we can fully awake to caress it With trembling fingers It is gone But known somehow It has found us We are changed “It will again” Hope whispers to us Nothing ends You are forever.
11.
The Night 05:35
12.
Dark Lullaby 05:54
Take me now when I’m quiet asleep Quiet asleep on my own Take me now, it’s past time for me Time for me to come home Take me now and all I believe Take me now, take me home My whole life long Take me now, I’ve got vows to keep Vows to keep and atone Take me now as I lie beneath all the lives I have known Take me now, I’m too tired to speak Tired, defeated, alone. My whole life long Take me now When it’s too dark to see Too dark to see all my wrongs Take me now, there’s no place for me No place here I belong Take me now, it’s not fair that we Bear all we need for so long My whole life long Until that day I pray I’ll hear you sing and say and call to me Forever faithful will I be All my life long
13.
14.
Spring Storm 04:47
15.
Save Me 05:25
Without even tryin’ You bring me safe to your island And you save me Without sign or warning Bleakest night becomes morning You save me In the moment that I fall and call and turn to find you there. “And always am” you tell me so Aloft upon the air Within the depths of the darkness You unleash You unharness A love that Saves me Amidst the rancor and violence You simply vanquish and silence Simply save me Every doubt, every fear You wipe away every tear The way you Save me In the moment that I fall and call and turn to find you there. “And always am” you tell me so Aloft upon the air Every wrong, so embittered Turns to dust Turns to glitter As you Save me From grief I’ll never recover You bring rise to another Find and Save me All the way ‘cross an ocean You set the whole thing in motion And you save me Whatever fate I must weather I know we’re always together That you saved me And so it’s begun now All three become one How you Save me Without even tryin’ You bring me safe to your island…
16.
A Place 06:31
(spoken word) There is a place Not just this place But every place And all at once That we don’t yet know
17.
Deux Anges 04:21
18.
San Simeon 04:49
Put your hair up In the car Halfway down the road we came To halfway where we are You said You said
19.
20.
21.
(spoken word) Higher, in another quadrant of the sky, The blanket of night would sometimes unfold, And parting, The brilliantine light of a distant star shown there. From a place deep within the bosom of its crest, Quiet messages would sound in insistent transmission - Broadcasts to beloveds separated by the invisible veil. As they lay restless asleep, These whispers might find them, The mourning, The faithful ones below who most needed to hear. Words and wonders Of a place nearer than they could, merely mortal, imagine. Words and wonders To help heal their hearts, Drop by drop, In dreams They raced to remember upon waking.
22.
Un-asleep from the room upstairs I hear you call Let me soon be there In our house, together in our house. Lost in a life that’s twice too long I cry out Let me reverse all wrongs In our house, our house It’s true Find my way across Where everything that once was lost And all forgotten - found Let me hear the sound Let me see you there Angel wings on the morning air Meet your eyes As you softly rise And say to me “Darling, now…” Come on over to our house Home to the love that’s true Come on over, it’s our house Come over, I’m waiting for you One side of the life we led One side of a lonely bed Entrusted to faith somewhere My angel again in the morning air As dawn reveals the day Broken, awoken, You teach me to say Oh! Come on over to my house Home to the love that’s true Come on over, it’s our house Come over, I’m waiting for you Not alone You’re not alone Wake alone in a painted room Lit by the trick Of a paper moon Call to me! Come on over to my house Come home to the love that’s true Come on over, it’s our house Come over, I’m waiting for you Not alone You’re not alone
23.
(spoken word) The memory of it, now A dubious anniversary Still seared and burning. How it had Inexplicably awoken her in her bed. A world away. Well before dawn. In a panic. Unknowing but certain of its wrongness. Words dictated in an ambulance before he fell again unconscious. Dropping everything to return. And he… Stunned to find her before him When his eyes opened again, at last. Must she remember? The weeks of struggles. The day of release. His collapse before her eyes, Just when it all seemed behind them. The grim face in the hall Telling her it was finished, Only to return moments later with the news of a miracle. Her whispered words as she held his hand Although he couldn’t yet speak or remember. Although she did, now. Remember? A week later on the roof So they might be closer to the angels - That she now knew were always there. One in particular, Now known not only to him But to them both. The tryptic. Holy and indivisible. This memory: After all the pain And every trial Filled with the grace that most colored her character How she turned and said Without thinking, without temperance “We’re so lucky”. To know that was more than even the celestial ones could hope. Something to remember after all. After all. After all.
24.
All these years Spent in the underground Down the street From the place we found All I asked and if you want me to I’ll hold fast To all I know that’s true I can’t bear All that they put you through My blood’s up Each time I think anew All I asked and if you want me to I’ll hold fast To all I know that’s true In the air With the earth below So unsteady In between’s our home All I asked and if you want me to I’ll hold fast To all I know that’s true Know in my heart Hard to say The way I wanted to S'il vous plait J’taime No parlez-vous All I asked and if you want me to I’ll hold fast To all I know that’s true Know in my heart It’s a love Know in my heart
25.
Snowfall 05:26
26.
Promise 07:37
And on and on It takes so long to reach you Just lift me up I promise I promise you Tho’ all undone I promise I promise you my holy one I promise I promise
27.
Zephyrs 05:22
28.
Ghost 3 05:01
29.
White Light 02:52
(spoken word) In the hours after, Vision at first quite blurry beyond the middle distance, Sight finally fully returned, unaffected Yet, Sometime later - Had it really been so much as a year? - The strangest thing happened And then again and again Infrequent, but too often to ignore. A multi-stranded column of light Thousands of tiny rays White Rectangular Ascending, Following his gaze wherever it landed Superimposing itself, Transparent Like gauze Thin Like a veil Over all seen, And unseen Had begun to follow him. For so long A piece of him was missing. First in grief Then nearly vanquished By the events Now Now, roughly burnished Purified with their fire He could at last be certain The Underseen Like a friend, now The dearest one of all The column of light In these sacred, unpredictable hours Followed him, He knew With love and protection.
30.
Treasure 07:02
Ah! And when I laid me down and cried You were the angel at my side You give me faith to know you’re there When I hear birdsong in the air I miss you And I know you are my treasure And I know you live forever And I know you are my treasure And I know you live forever But I miss you And when I lay me down to die You’ll be the angel at my side And in your arms again, at last I’ll find the future and our past, again I’m with you! And I know you are my treasure And I know you are forever And I know you are my treasure And I know we are forever (know we’ll be together) I’m with you! Ah!

about

BEST ALBUMS OF 2020:

On December 4, Max Reinhardt (former host, BBC Radio 3's Late Junction) closed his BEST OF 2020 show on London's Soho Radio with "Infinity Hall", from disc one of the double-album, going on to say:

"Bipolar Explorer. Well...there is hauntology at work. Hauntology right in the center of their work."

(Update 12/25/20 - On his Christmas Show, Mr Reinhardt adds):

"I just have to say, the more you listen to the album, the double-album, the better it gets! And it's all so different! That one ("Snowfall") is, somehow or other, somewhere between Sonic Youth and "The Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus" ! But, anyway, very fine!”
-Max Reinhardt, Soho Radio (London)

"Wonderful! Gorgeous stuff!"
-Irene Trudel, WFMU
Best Releases of 2020

"Epic!"
-Fogcast, Best of 2020 Mixtape, Resonance FM (London)

"Overwhelming. A psychedelic ride where harmonies are meandering like a flowing river. You can pick up this album over and over again and start dreaming, discovering new things."
-DeMist Radio/Radio Hoogeveen (Netherlands)
Best Post-Rock Albums of 2020

MORE REVIEWS:

“Mysterious. Otherworldly. An emotional musical journey."
-Carson Street, KFJC (California)

"Thick dark atmospherics. Glistening guitars. Deep-under-water vocals."
-Dave Mandl (WFMU, The Wire Magazine, et al.)

“The announcement of a new Bipolar Explorer album is always, to us, a surprise as formidable as it is pleasant. Indeed, this project, which we’ve been loving for several years now, has never tried to do the same work twice, slow rock movements on which Summer, Sylvia and Michael lay their spontaneous inspirations. Drawing ideas from the realm of dreams, as well as the deeper, more refined confrontation with reality, through a softness full of wisdom and contemplation, Bipolar Explorer is a call for renaissance, a refusal of passivity, without any futile anger. An introduction to the inner and spiritual dream, the first excerpt, ”Santa Barbara”, with its hypersensitive contours, goes beyond our hopes and dreams, while found sounds from an indescribable place and the musicians’, pure and unique, meet. DEUX ANGES is released on November 13th.”
-Raphael Duprez, Punktum (France)

ABOUT THIS ALBUM:

“It takes two people to live one life.”

Summer’s mom says that’s what she and Summer herself always said about living her own. I think it takes at least two and in our case, in mine, doubtless, three. If that all sounds a bit cryptic, let me try to explain, contextualize.

When last we spoke, dear listener, round about the release of our previous album, Til Morning Is Nigh, I (Michael) was recovering from the events that nearly took (and briefly, actually did take) my life. In the little liner note Christmas ornament that came special with the CD version of the album, we alluded to this.

Adrift in those ten minutes when my heart ceased beating, a pulmonary event nearly always fatal, how “twin angels both celestial and earthly, returned and guarded” me from their vantages “on either side of the divide, enveloping me (and as we wished to envelop all of you with Til Morning itself) in love and protection.”

It’s a dodgy business trying to explain an album. It’s hard sometimes for us to get a finger on it and maybe folly to try because whatever it comes to mean to you, dear listener, is the far more important thing and maybe we shouldn’t be prejudicing those impressions of yours with our own thoughts before you’ve even had a chance to come to it unknowingly on your own. But in the event that it might be of some mild interest, pique curiosity, provide nominal context, we’d like to share a little of our thoughts.

When we finally got out of that awful hospital, limping into the back of a cab, legs attached by hoses to a wound vac, shoulder in a sling, clutching a bottle of blood thinner, and pulling away from the curb, we passed the awe-inspiring sight of the Cathedral of St John the Divine rising above us. Rolling the window down, the air warm and fresh, our first time outside in nearly a month, I heard birdsong and simply began to cry. The sights of the city as we drove downtown toward home, familiar, seemed magical, and later just a few blocks from our building when a song came on the radio from the driver’s seat in front (Cheap Trick’s “Surrender” - ha!), I started singing along. Summer’s mom looked back from the front seat passenger side and Sylvia, next to me in back, smiled, but said, still a bit worried about my heart, “don’t get too excited.”

I did, though. Making my way up the 69 steps dragging the wound vac behind me like a mountaineer, the way physical therapy had had me practice in the hospital’s stairwell, the first thing we did when we got into the apartment was plant me directly in front of the a/c and get WFMU on. Takeout from the Greek place downstairs and that night’s SF Giants baseball game on TV completed the homecoming.

In the weeks ahead, we were determined to go forward with Til Morning, even with me still in a sling, barely able to move my left arm and fret my guitars. Music almost overwhelmed me with emotion whenever I heard it and it became something even dearer than it had been to me before. To be moved by music and to be able to create our own seemed the very reason for, if not simply life itself - what it was to be alive.

By the time we finished Til Morning, releasing it the day after Thanksgiving - Sylvia’s first one (how do we say “giblets”? ) - and a mini-tour of Northern California just before Christmas, we were already thinking about this album.

I know, we’re a thousand words in here and I’m only just turning the corner to the task at hand - how did this come to be? Well, all that precedes maybe lays context, past is prologue.

One of the things I always wanted to do, I told Summer of this, too, and now Sylvia, was to drive California’s Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1), making little stops along the way, folding in visits to some of the famous Missions along the way, and staying overnight wherever we might find wending our leisurely way. Summer & I never got to this, along with a thousand other plans, but we did touch on it when she was working in Carmel, both going back and forth home to San Francisco and alighting there for the month or two she was appearing onstage. Carmel is where Highway 1 really begins its most breathtaking vistas, first as Monterey appears before you en route, and later after leaving Carmel’s gorgeous environs for Big Sur.

Sylvia and I planned to make this pilgrimage, starting out from Summer’s folks house north of Sacramento all the way down to Santa Barbara (where I was born) and back again, over five days. Sylvia mapped the whole thing out - the Missions, the sleepovers, everything - from France before she arrived here in New York just before my birthday. The year before, both mine and hers had been spent in that godawful hospital. We determined to do better this year, flying to California, spending time with Summer’s parents, taking our road trip, finishing back with the Serafins and then returning to NYC.

I gently steered Sylvia away from a stopover in Carmel because I thought it would hurt too much. Days after Summer’s tragic passing in 2011, I’d tried to make this very pilgrimage on my own. I stopped in Carmel - meaning to go all the way on to see friends, shattered, in LA - but taking my things to the hotel room (which I was sure was the very same room in which Summer & I had stayed), walking the little streets there, trying to visit the ocean, I faltered. Ruined, overwhelmed with grief, I couldn’t even make it to the beach. I slumped and hid behind a tree. I passed back into the center of the village, where every place had lost its magic without her, climbed the stairs to the hotel, fell onto the floor and sobbed. I called a friend in NYC who told me just to get out of there, check out of the hotel and drive back to my friend’s house in San Rafael until my flight back to New York a week later. It was the last time, aside from regularly visiting Summer’s parents, that I would ever travel. It had spooked me.

It’s sometimes hard to remember but Bipolar Explorer existed before the tragedy. Summer and Sean and I were working on what we thought was going to be an EP, the material that came to be part of Of Love and Loss. In the years since, today, and forever, this project will be, as we’ve often said “of, for and about her”. But the events that nearly and briefly did take my own life and Sylvia’s selfless emergence, holding me up (literally), in guidance and finding a way together - angels both earthly and celestial, astride either side of the divide - now, forever, fold themselves into our remit, as well.

With Sylvia’s itinerary in hand, we headed down the coast. I’d packed my road guitar and minimal set-up - a bottom of the line echo/delay pedal and a 9 volt mini Marshall amp - and each night I’d play in our hotel room. The record’s first songs were birthed along the way, three of them taking their titles for the places they were born.

The last of them, “Mission Street”, was begun in Carmel - where we wound up going, blessedly, after all, the darker clouds lifting: It takes three people to live one life.

In the morning, Sylvia and I walked down to the beach. We took our shoes off at that very tree I had slumped and hidden behind and shuffled barefoot through the warm, white sands. At a certain point I walked off, shoes in hand, along, alone, down the beach near the water, the tide rolling in caressing my toes, deep in thought, in communion with the other half of my soul. Sylvia, thoughtfully, respectfully, herself full of love and protection, let me wander and took the most beautiful photograph of the very moment. You’ll see it here and may also recognize it as the cover of our first experimental music piece for The Dark Outside.

Indeed, there’s more of that kind of work on Deux Anges - the ambient, the experimental, field recordings sprinkled with instrumentation - as well as the more traditional dreampop songwriting and shoegaze-y underscored spoken word, that has become our kind of signature.

What is the album about? Even Sylvia was asking and she’s as close to it as anyone. “Is it about the accident”, she asked?

No, I don’t think so. It’s more of an expression of the wonder of even being here at all. The struggle is part of it, too. The loss, the sadness, the longing, the fitful efforts to find our way. There’s darkness but it’s there where the glimmer of light sometimes glows brightest. That flicker of faith that begins as an ember in the black and grows to overtake it.

It’s gratitude for the people I love. For my angels, celestial and earthly. For Mike & Linda - Summer’s beautiful parents. For everything that opened up on that trip down Highway 1. For “sandos” along the way at San Luis Obispo’s High Street Deli. For the music that touches us and the music that somehow comes out of us, a gift from the beyond, from The Forever. For the people who care about that, for our friends at WFMU and California’s KFJC, for the UK’s The Dark Outside and London’s Resonance FM, The Sound Projector, and Sonic Imperfections, for Germany’s TFSC and Canada’s Limbocast, for The Netherland’s De Mist, for France’s Indiemusic and Raphael Duprez, for Toronto’s Ground Control Magazine and Daryl Darko Barnett. For you, dear listener.

Over two discs and three hours, we hope Deux Anges takes you somewhere, too. Somewhere warm, somewhere you feel home, somewhere thoughts can drift and kindness find you. Ready for a drive? We’ll stop for sandos along the way…


With love, thanks & faith,

Michael Serafin-Wells
(for Summer & Michael & Sylvia)
Bipolar Explorer
New York City

ABOUT THE BAND:

Bipolar Explorer are an NYC-based dreampop, post-rock trio featuring Summer Serafin (vocals, spoken word), Michael Serafin-Wells (guitars, vocals, bass, organ, synth, melodica, tape loops, percussion, spoken word) and Sylvia Solanas (spoken word - English/French).

The signature interweaving of spoken word into the band’s work is described by the UK’s Norman Records as “a cross between Slowdive and Laurie Anderson - a late night radio transmission drifting to us, half asleep in bed”.

Forging an unique sound well serves the new songs Serafin-Wells began writing after the tragic loss of his partner, BPX co-founder, Summer Serafin, who passed away in 2011, just 31.

As Michael told Indiemusic’s Raphael Duprez in a feature about the band (February 2017): “All of this is entirely for her. I often say that our music, each album, is of, for and about her. Summer remains an integral part of the band - not only as its inspiration but, because I have an archive of her isolated tracks, her vocals grace each new album as I write songs and fly in her voice. Summer isn’t the main reason BPX goes on, she’s the only reason. She is the reason. And I think I can trust that I’m doing things for the right reason if I always know the reason for it is her. Not out of any ambition other than to honor and conjure her. She’s my conscience."

credits

released November 13, 2020

Summer Serafin - vocals, spoken word.
Michael Serafin-Wells - vocals, guitars, bowed guitar, bass, synth, organ, melodica, chimes, tape loops, percussion, spoken word.
Sylvia Solanas - spoken word, backing vocals, percussion.

Recorded live, noisily and in a hurry at The Shrine - NYC.
All songs, music, lyrics and spoken word narrative poems by Michael Serafin-Wells. c. 2020 Thirteen November Music (ASCAP).
Translations into the French - Sylvia Solanas.
Produced by Bipolar Explorer.

Mastered by Scott Craggs, Old Colony - Boston.
Artwork/layout by Audun Grimstad.
Cover image: “Der Alte Matrose” by Gustave Dore (public domain).

c/p 2020 Bipolar Explorer, Slugg Records and Thirteen November Music (ASCAP)
All rights reserved.

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Bipolar Explorer New York, New York

"Magical & majestic. Unforgettable & essential" -Indiemusic (France).

"Great, beautiful, drifty-pop filled with sadness & wonder" -WFMU.

"Epic & affecting"-Surface Noise.

"The most significantly stirring & addictive musical accomplishment we've come across in some time. Altogether haunting" -Ground Control.

NYC-based dreampop trio of Summer Serafin, Michael Serafin-Wells & Sylvia Solanas.
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