Category Archives: Solar Bears

The Cat is Always Dead

Featuring : Solar Bears


Solar Bears returned a few weeks back with their new album, Advancement.  It’s out on Sunday Best and you can grab it here.

It is, like their previous work, a garden of hauntological delights.  Tripping through the perma-disturbing vision of a deranged 70s educational science programme, via early Warp (who became adept at distilling the pure horror of library music) and on to our retro-futuristic world of Night Drives.  By 2016 I think it’s fair to say we have reached Schrodinger’s hauntology.  All genres and cultural touchstones are now replaced by the ghosts of themselves, until you look at them. Then we have to make up our damn minds.  And we’re bad at that.

Gravity Calling nails that drum intro with the bass eq’d out just long enough for the full Cybertron-ian force of the drum programming to hit.  And an exquisite hit it is, propelling us through wistful synth melodies  and on to intricate, punchy crescendos, meshed perfectly with those drums.  Before it all falls away, as it surely must.  For we’ve gazed at it all too long.

Solar Bears – Gravity Calling

Bonus vid for the titanic album closer, force of nature and early audition for the soundtrack to Michael Mann’s The Keep remake: Separate From the Arc.

Tempus Culpa

Featuring : Solar Bears + Terranova

The future rulers of our planet — having fully mastered the pico-second telecommunications structure required to make vast trades before their  adversaries had fully thought about it — discovered that, paradoxically, they no longer had use for time.  As their machines operated at the edges of perception, manipulating the world like blind gods, the rulers slumped back into a stupor.  Their wealth and power ultimately so monolithically burdensome that weeks flew by like hours, conversations took days.  They became great lumbering beasts that straddled the globe as their enablers, the energetic peoples of the world, scrambled to prop them up, lest they fall on them.

20JFG’s egocentric investment in high frequency trading continues apace but for now you’ll have to accept our great lumbering apologies for sleeping on the latests missive from the forever awesomely named Solar Bears.  Everyone from XLR8R to Pitchfork has been all over this and rightly so.

Cosmic Runner remains firmly in Solar Bears’ cinematic cannon.  A hook worthy of a giallo, branching out into sci-fi.  Still operatic murder mystery stuff but potentially with clones…and an institute of some kind…and modernist architecture standing in for the future…perhaps in Canada.  Propulsive like all good cinematic accompaniments, stepping purposefully through the fallout of hippy idealism.  A darker world for sure — although a psychedlic half-life always existed in the flourishing of synth based automation.  And this still has it.  It may be a remorseless stedicam shot behind the killer but it’s painted in rainbow hues.  Just like any good giallo.

Solar Bears – Cosmic Runner

Staying cinematic, we were kindly sent this video for Terranova‘s Prayer.  Which we liked a lot.  The inimitable Udo Kier scrutinises your soul for five minutes while lip-syncing to the vocals of the video’s director, Coco Krebitz; in black and white.  What’s not to like?

apologies to Latin speakers for today’s title


We have reinvested the proceeds of our timely exit from the latest zeitgeist bubble into a plot of land in the Tunguska area, and the services of several discredited physicists. With our support, they are deploying equipment purloined from the run down laboratories of Akademogorodok to experiment with the impact of cosmic radiation on soundwave composition in the uppermost fringe of the radio spectrum.

A Hypothesis

The speculative hypothesis being tested is that, when transmitted through the outer surface of Earth’s cosmic ray shield, soundwaves are subtly reconfigured by the impact of powerful radiations emanating from the centre of the galaxy. The result is similar to the varnishing of memories with time. Accuracy and emotion slide in an inverse relation until music decouples from the concrete and soars into the void, from where it is notoriously hard to retrieve, like a wild bird released from captivity.

Observation 0.1

In most cases, the sounds that we have captured with our crude antennas are eerily abstract drones like those generated by the Gravitational Wave Detector. But in a couple of occasions, something truly exceptional has happened. If normal sound is electricity, then this is a Tesla Coil.

Let us begin with the transmission of Cub, one of the most contemplative pieces in Solar Bears’ mindblowing ‘She Was Coloured In’ through Keep Shelly in Athens trans-mediterranean particle accelerator.

Solar Bears – Cub (Keep Shelly in Athens remix)

Observation 0.2

As any physicist worth his or her salt knows, when you zero in matter and time at the particle level you are able to see not just the now, but the dynamics through which the now arrived from the then. In this case, the liquid curtains of Balearica are slid open into a bacchanal of stroboscopic epiphany over the Aegean cliffs where Gods were dreamt. If it sounds like a spaced out  ‘Theme for Great Beaches’ dub of early Simple Minds, it is simply because those guys got really close to the source, and so does this.

We continue our sustained Mannequin bonanza with Italian cold wave legends Chromagain, whose ‘Any Colour we Liked’ LP will soon be reissued in collaboration with Anna Logue records.

Watch them step out of the spherical space that the past slices into the present, like skinny Terminators reopening and old front in the new wave European war-theatre.

I Walk in the City is an existential strut across a city of synthetic tears, an architecture of sound recreating not only the glass, steel and pillars of concrete of which it is built, but also the currents of energy and information that flow through it, and, ultimately, when all melodies converge into an emotional apex, the powerful sigh of its gestalt subconscious.

Chromagain – I Walk in the City


Featuring : fur, Jeans Wilder + Solar Bears

Those nights we stay in, but outside of the forbidden cellar, we tend to fall asleep to the cycle of a cylinder light that projects upon the walls of the bedroom the shapes of future constellations in the pantheon of musical glory. Last night, it was Jeans Wilder who showed up in this makeshift firmament, up there with other luminaries of the hazy conspiracy such as Panda Bear, Ariel Pink and Atlas Sound, and it was ‘In My Dreams’, this purring lo-fi Minuet purloined from 1960s Motown (if only Detroit had specialised in the pharmaceutical industry rather than automobiles) that took us by the hand into a land of overexposed Super-8 flashbacks of good times where all surfaces are soft and warm, and all bad vibes vanquished.

Jeans wilder – In my dreams

Which is included in the very excellent ‘Nice Trash’ LP out in LA Station Radar/Atelier Ciseaux.

And here you have a very exclusive premiere of the video.

We continue our pilgrimage through the land of suspended emotion with this wonderful remix of FUR’s Clears Throat by our favourite progressive navigators Solar Bears. If the telepaths in Minority Report received premonitions of hear-rending break-ups rather than murders to be, this would be the Balearic ballad that they would whistle in their nocturnal pool, primary colours of melancholy fade into the vaults of memory, a sweet aftertaste lingers, for life hurts, otherwise it’s nothing.

FUR- Clears Throat (Solar Bear Remix)


HOLD THE PRESS!!! Tomorrow night 20JFG presents a special one-off sermon from our beloved Hype Williams in our beloved second home of Berlin…….

20jazzfunkgreats best of 2010: Those cracks in time

It was as if, glimpsed from the right angle, all of the attempts at categorisation had but cascaded into one. Moving the three lists back into their proper position temporarily solved this issue but the great list-master remained disturbed. For what could this mean, he thought. What were the semantic implications of this perilous discovery? Were the three lists secretly as one? What would the creators of the lists think of this? A year’s work, carefully separating and categorising reduced, by a tilt of the head, to a universal soup.

Darkstar – North. In the best possible sense, the synth-pop album of the year.

Echo Lake – In Dreams. Metronomic dream-pop for Black Lodge parties.

Echo Lake – In Dreams (posted May 20th)

Future Islands – In Evening Air. The house band for a desert plateau from which you can see only stars.

Future Islands – Inch Of Dust (posted May 13th)

Girl Unit – Wut.  Minimalist mirrorball-Bass. A torch song for the drop.

Girl Unit – Wut (New Post)

Guido – Anidea.  Soundtrack to lone walks through a metropolis you’re falling back in love with.  Until this ends…

Guido – Tantalized (New Post)

Hotel Mexico – Its Twinkle.  Teaching us how to love the guitar overdose once more.  Like falling on psychedelics.

Hotel Mexico- Its Twinkle (posted August 3rd)

James Blackshaw – All is Falling.  An album of serene beauty that performed a feat of alchemy by making travelling back from London at 3AM a pleasurable experience.

James Blackshaw – Part 4 (New Post)

Night Gallery – Constant Struggle.  In a world of (reanimated) Cold-Wave we nuzzle in the warm embrace of an anglo-centric synth-pop…that includes songs about child killers.  What darkness lurks in the heart of synthesisers?

Night Gallery – Real Normal (New Post)

No UFO’s – Soft Coast.  A cascade through the experimental heart of early dance music. A transmission picked up from the desert wastes of a future built on Kaotic Harmonies.

No UFO’s – 00/00/2010 (posted July 1st)

Oneohtrix Point Never – Returnal.  Universally praised culmination of an epic journey of minimal synths into the night desert skies –  criss-crossed by star patterns that resemble a patch-chord diagram.  This is what happens when someone wires that up.

Oneohtrix Point Never – Where Does time Go (posted July 1st)

Solar Bears – She Was Coloured In.  “The metronome of this song swings with the circumference of a horizon beheld from high above, where the clouds glow with a tincture which is both the warmth of the sun, and the deep blue of the space above, it makes me wanna cry for everything we have forgotten”. – Florian

Solar Bears- Neon Colony (posted July 12th)

V/A – Shangaan Electro: New Wave Dance Music From South Africa.  Without a shadow of a doubt the compilation of the year.

Zinja Hlungwani – N’wagezani My Love (New Post)

Evenings with Florian pt. 1

Featuring : Solar Bears + Urban Tribe

Every time I go to hang out with Florian down his bungalow is like reading an episode in the oral history of psychedelic privateering. He’s been everywhere. He was there at the German communes sitting chameleon-like in the back, surfing on the ley waves of collective energy, Paris 1968, hurling rocks at the man in the afternoon, checking out the second hand market for custom-made moog synthesisers in the evening. He fixed the oil leak of the Merry Prankster’s Furthur bus and bailed Lee Perry from jail once, he had a transatlantic operation smuggling rare electronische 12” into the hands of Chicago heads.

He was doing that stuff. Not much about it, he says.

He takes it easy these days, just sits in the porch outside of his bungalow, smoking and reading, stroking his mongrel cat. He doesn’t listen to much music, he says all the sounds are already inside his head… but he’s happy to check only the tapes and records that I bring him (he’s not big on digital), stuff I think he might dig. We sit on the porch and stare at the sea, and he talks.

(Image by Benbo George, stumbled upon at Blog.Sans-Concept)

Ha ha, this one gives the finger to any supposed separations between the engineered emotions of synthetic music and the improvisational energy of direct physical contact between human body and the analogue instrument. If you take the process back one step you shall realise that the connection that matters occurs between a neural web fired up in a lightning bolt of inspiration, and the fingers that stroke the heart of a machine trembling with anticipation- the rest is artifice. Which means that all music is digital, kid, it’s all digital. Check it out, sacred riffs full of power and mystery, an ode to the gods scribbled in a future language- like the Mahavishnu Orchestra after an advanced introduction to String Theory.

Urban Tribe- Insolitology (removed on request)

Insolitology is included in Urban Tribe’s Loyal Oposition, buy it here.

“See, this album you are playing now sounds like it could have been made by some French crazies in the 1970s, when prog became that all-encompassing juggernaut that vomited liquid shards of over-nourished human psyche all over the place, it was kind of gross and eventually tiresome. But while the going was good, I swear, it was the most exciting of times. You took one of those records from its floridly decorated sleeve, slipped it on, leant back and breathed deep, woosh, it was like going partying in the docks of Marseilles as re-imagined by some sword and sorcery nut, you never fucken knew what was going to happen next, smoke and mirrors, twists and turns, ah, the energy! And if at parts it sounded like the future, not the future we dreamed but the future that happened, it is because some of us travelled there riding in the back of a red dragon. The metronome of this song swings with the circumference of a horizon beheld from high above, where the clouds glow with a tinture which is both the warmth of the sun, and the deep blue of the space above, it makes me wanna cry for everything we have forgotten’.

Solar Bears- Neon Colony

Solar Bears’ She Was Coloured In’ is one of the most astonishing albums that 20jazzfunkgreats (and Florian) have heard in a long time- like Subway soundtracking Fantastic Planet or something. But you are going to have to await until September to listen to it in its utterly transfixing glory. In Planet Mu, those guys know.