"Ethereal music that sends the listener up towards the heavens to sit aloft on the clouds above. A truly ascendant album to be listened to any time of year."
-Carol Crow, WFMU
“Unforgettable and essential. Magical and majestic.” - Indiemusic (France)
“Great, beautiful drifty-pop, full of sadness and wonder.” - WFMU
“Epic and affecting.” - Surface Noise
“Significant, stirring and addictive” - Ground Control Magazine
"Eleven months have thus passed after their moving double album, “Sometimes In Dreams”. And yet this has not been enough for Bipolar
Explorer to not come back and enchant us yet again for this end of the year, this time with a more conceptual album titled “Til Morning Is Nigh: A Dream Of Christmas”.
With Christmas season approaching (and it's become more than a
custom), artists and bands have decided to follow the trend so as to remind us of the festive aspect of the event, and the New York duo has gotten on board too but with an extra touch of creativity. With the help of a French newcomer named Sylvia Solanas who quotes several passages of the Old Testament on short tracks ("Before We Could Be
Found", "The Faithful Delivered", "Even Forever"...), Bipolar Explorer
explores (no pun intended) the Christmas tradition with their luminous and enchanting dreampop/shoegaze through tracks still as minimalist
but also dreamlike with among others "Bethlehem",
"Oh That We Were There" and "Mille Anges Divins".
Michael Serafin-Wells, Summer Serafin and their French guest give us a new glimpse of Christmas with solemn compositions such as "Gabriel", "Midwinter", as well as "Angel Frequency".
“Til Morning Is Nigh: A Dream Of Christmas” is quite a bold tale divided into 23 musical chapters. If you're looking for Christmas gift ideas, Bipolar Explorer is more than an option...”
-Les Oreilles Curieuses (France) December 8, 2018
MORE ABOUT THIS ALBUM:
NYC dreampop trio follow up their celebrated 7th album, SOMETIMES IN DREAMS -“unforgettable and essential” (Indiemusic - France) - with this 23-track soundscape of shoegaze, dreampop and spoken word underscored by post-rock guitar.
Featuring both new compositions and new instrumentation (organ, synth, melodica). And new voices - joining band co-founders Summer and Michael is Sylvia Solanas. Originally from the south of France, Ms Solanas voices spoken word in French on the new album and is a co-founder (with Michael) of the band's brand new sibling in dreampop, Tremosphere, who themselves will release a debut album early in 2019.
“So… we had already had plans to write and record this album, our eighth, early this year and had the good fortune to be gifted the rights (by The Slovak National Gallery) to the breathtaking painting by the late L’udovit Kochol that graces its cover. But before we could begin in earnest, Michael was hit by a car on the day before his birthday in April, awaking in the ER with serious injuries. Then, two weeks later as he was initially released, collapsed on the sidewalk outside of the hospital, in Sylvia’s arms. Terrified, she screamed for help and texted Summer’s dad, a MD, who replied immediately in all caps: “pulmonary embolism”. Rushed back into Trauma, his heart stopped for a full ten minutes. Usually fatal, it's something of a miracle he is still with us - returned and guarded by angels on both sides of the divide. This record, a dream bridging that very chasm, echoes those moments between worlds, like a late night broadcast from a distant radio transmitter drifting to us as we lay half asleep in the midwinter twilight. The album’s bilingual spoken word mirrors this, too - angels (Michael’s and our own), both celestial and earthly, enveloping us with love and protection”
Summer, Michael & Sylvia.
Summer Serafin - vocals, spoken word.
Michael Serafin-Wells - vocals, guitars, bass, synth, organ, melodica, tape loops, percussion, spoken word.
Sylvia Solanas - spoken word (French).
Recorded live, noisily and in a hurry at The Shrine - NYC.
All songs by Michael Serafin-Wells and/or traditional arranged by Serafin-Wells. c. 2018 Thirteen November Music (ASCAP),
Produced by Bipolar Explorer.
Mastered by Scott Craggs, Old Colony - Boston.
Artwork/layout by Audun Grimstad.
Cover image: “Jacob Wrestling with the Angel”, L’udovit Kochol, 1972, Slovak National Gallery, source: Webumenia.sk
. Used with kind permission.
c/p 2018 Bipolar Explorer, Slugg Records and Thirteen November Music (ASCAP)
For Summer, with love forever. A thousand divine angels watch, bless and keep you.
ABOUT THE BAND:
Their seventh album, SOMETIMES IN DREAMS (2018) hailed as "epic and affecting" by Surface Noise, their sixth album, DREAM TOGETHER (2017), praised by France’s Indiemusic as “magical and majestic - an ultimate tour-de-force”, their double-album, OF LOVE AND LOSS (2013) - "The most significantly stirring and addictive musical accomplishment we've come across in some time. Taut, emotional, urgent and altogether haunting” - and its follow-up, ANGELS (2015) - “Electrifying, what music fueled by raw love and emotions sounds like” - each a Critics Pick for Best Albums of the Year by Ground Control Magazine, Bipolar Explorer are an NYC-based dreampop, post-rock group founded by Summer Serafin (vocals) and Michael Serafin-Wells (lead guitar & vocals, bass, organ, synth, melodica and percussion), notable for intimate, electric live performances, unimpeachable songwriting, uncompromising DIY ethos and their playing without drums.
Featured on the legendary Irene Trudel's show on WFMU ("America's best radio station" - Rolling Stone) who calls their sound "beautiful, great drifty pop, filled with sadness and wonder”, the band follow up their celebrated seventh album, SOMETIMES IN DREAMS - "Unforgettable and essential. This is a major record" (Indiemusic -France), reaching the #19 chart position of WFMU’s album charts in May 2018 and entering the top 200 of the North America College and Community Radio (NACC) listings - with this 23-track dreamscape of shoegaze, dreampop and spoken word underscored by post-rock guitar.
Recorded, mixed and produced by the band at The Shrine in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen, TIL MORNING IS NIGH is the band's eighth album overall and their fourth in just the span of twenty-eight months.
In June 2016, the group released ELECTRIC HYMNAL, a sixteen track collection of devotional songs and spoken word (both secular and sacred) - a meditation and sonic prayer for their fallen bandmate, Michael's true love and partner, Summer Serafin - in a limited edition one-time pressing on CD only (no digital), offering it free of charge, as a gift of faith.
Again, praised by Ground Control: "...Get ready to be swept up and away by a prayerful reverie of melodies. Listening, I began to feel like I was flying. Don’t forget that Bipolar Explorer is a post-rock band. Low growling vocals, gnarly grinding tempos, rhythmic looping strands that escape and rise above the weight of this world, where angels and the living mingle…"
The interweaving of spoken word into the band’s work was explained by Serafin-Wells recently in conversation with USC filmmaker, Alexandra Dennis-Renner, who is making a documentary, "Sonic Prayer", about the band. Having begun work on the live performance arts installation piece that ultimately became the double-album, SOMETIMES IN DREAMS, Serafin-Wells says,“the idea of a female voice, a spoken word narrator - like in a novel or off-camera in a film - came to mind. To tell the story in tandem with the band, supported by film projections in collaboration with a visual artist. And once I wrote the narrative voice for the that, it just started to seem a natural thing, making its way into “Electric Hymnal” and “Dream Together”. Ya know? In that way that things sort of cross-pollinate through multiple projects. We were listening a lot to Laurie Anderson’s “Heart of A Dog” at the time and we kinda thought… yeah.”
In artistic collaboration with several visual artist friends of the band, TIL MORNING IS NIGH, SOMETIMES IN DREAMS, DREAM TOGETHER and ELECTRIC HYMNAL were originally conceived for performance as live installation pieces, in intimate, non-traditional settings. Immersive and multi-media, this direction might well be seen as a natural outgrowth of the band’s perennial choice of performance setting - art galleries - and other non-traditional venues. However, live shows aside the albums have very much become performances themselves.
“We’re enormously romantic about radio”, Serafin-Wells continues. “I can’t tell you how much we’ve been immersed in the work of ambient masters like Stars of the Lid as I’ve written and we’ve recorded these last four albums. I really see that as our template going forward, the album itself, an uninterrupted flow of sound taking you somewhere and really both audio document and the performance of its composition all in one.”
Ms. Solanas’s appearance on the new album helps cement that, Serafin-Wells adds. “Sylvia is amazing, invaluable and, personally, the dearest person in my life. We began this work on the other project - Tremosphere, sort of Bipolar Explorer’s sister band - and it was a natural fit for her to do spoken word with the group. She has an incredible empathy and feel for it. I sort of feel that Summer and she and I all three melt into one in the sonic sense on this record. Maybe in every sense.”
Forging an unique sound - described variously as shoegaze, dreampop, slowcore, post-rock and minimalist indie - well serves the new songs Serafin-Wells began writing in the aftermath of the tragic loss of the group's female vocalist, Michael's love and partner, Summer Serafin, who passed away after a tragic accident in 2011. She was just 31. At work at the time on a new record, the group eventually returned to those recordings, adding them to a handful of newly written songs post-tragedy and re-conceiving the album as both a testament and tribute to Ms. Serafin – muse, collaborator and True Love - yielding a double-album, OF LOVE AND LOSS, released to great acclaim in October 2012.
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. It’s my way of telling people about her and talking to her myself. That’s the “for’ and “about” parts of the equation. And Summer remains an integral part of the band - not only as its inspiration but, because I have lots of her isolated vocals from other recording sessions - as her voice, both spoken and singing, graces each record. I’ll 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."
Bipolar Explorer's releases include “Til Morning Is Nigh” (2018), “Sometimes in Dreams" (2018), "Dream Together" (2017), "Electric Hymnal" (2016), "Angels" (2015), their holiday album - "BPXmas" (2014), "Of Love and Loss" (2012), the digital-only singles "Better Girl" (2018), "Watchers and Holy Ones" (2017), "We’ll All Go Together" (2016) and "Downtown Train" (2015) and their earlier (pre-Summer) debut "Go Negative". All titles are available on Slugg Records.