Bipolar Explorer

 
 

About the band

Bipolar Explorer

Their double-album, Of Love and Loss, a Critics Pick for Best Albums of the Year by Ground Control Magazine, "The most significantly stirring and addictive musical accomplishment we've come across in some time. Taut, emotional, urgent and altogether haunting" and by PopMatters as “Eclectic, steadfast and powerful", Bipolar Explorer are an NYC-based minimalist indie rock band - featuring Summer Serafin (vocals), former Uncle frontman Michael Serafin-Wells (lead guitar & vocals, bass and percussion), Jason Sutherland (guitar & backing vocals) and occasional guests - notable for intimate, electric live performances, unimpeachable songwriting, uncompromising DIY ethos and their playing without drums.

 

Recently 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", the band's latest record, Angels - the follow-up to Of Love and Loss - has just been named Best Album of the Year by Ground Control Magazine's Publisher and Contributing Editor Daryl Darko Barnett (January 2016) in its year-end Critics Poll. On the heels of the double-release of Angels and the band's holiday record, BPXmas ("Brilliant! Ranging from moody showgaze to jangly dreampop with a sturdy bit of the ruins of CBGB's undergirding the lot."  - Ground Control), the group has produced a series of original music videos (12 in all) and on June 21, 2016 released a new album.

 

That record - Electric Hymnal - is their sixteen track collection of devotional songs and spoken word (both secular and sacred) -  a meditation and sonic prayer for their fallen bandmate, Michael's truelove 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. 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. The lyrics are not shouted, for the most part, but are breathed and whispered with reverential respect. There is something else happening with these melodies. 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. 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. It also reminds me 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. This music feels like that, a post-rock interpretation of worship music for the modern age, and typical non-believers. “Electric Hymnal” is released (for free!) as a limited edition CD (no digital) and is 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..."

 

Presently, the band is at work on a new full-length called Dream Together for release in September 2016; and a live performance art adaptation of Of Love and Loss first presented as a "concert performance" in Brooklyn in October 2015 and expected to premiere in a found, possibly sacred venue sometime late-2016.

 

On November 13, 2015 the band released its new digital-only single, their haunting dreampop cover of the Tom Waits classic Downtown Train to mark and honor the 36th birthday of their fallen bandmate, Michael's true love and partner, Summer Serafin, who passed away after a tragic accident in 2011. And on March 18, 2016, to mark the anniversary of Summer's tragic passing, the band recorded, assembled video and digitally released a further tribute - their cover of the traditional Scottish folk song We'll All Go Together ("Wild Mountain Thyme").

 

Favoring non-traditional venues - art galleries, afterhour bookstores, house concerts, "secret" shows - founder, guitarist and lead singer, Serafin-Wells has explained their live approach, saying, "we're not quite ex-punkrockers who decided to play without a drummer and not so damn loud, partly out of necessity and partly to see if we liked it."

 

Forging an unique sound - described variously as shoegaze, dreampop, slowcore 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 reconceiving the album as both a testament and tribute to Ms. Serafin – muse, collaborator and True Love. The eclectic mix of studio and home recordings – entirely appropriate given Summer’s own fierce commitment to retaining the immediacy of the band’s demos in all “proper” releases -  yielded a double-record, Of Love and Loss, released to great acclaim in October 2012. As Michael told Ground Control's Daryl Darko Barnett in a feature about the band "…It's kinda of, for and about her. Every last step of this - the final mixes, the final mastering, the final art (the double CD comes with a collage poster of photos and an incredibly arresting cover, Alex Alemany’s painting “Mediterraneo”) – it was really hard to let go of because it felt like something was ending. But playing these songs out – and we’re not trying to replicate Summer’s vocals, no one could – it’s still something going forward. It’s like a kind of prayer to her and we know, we can feel it – she’s around.”

 

Bipolar Explorer's releases include Electric Hymnal (2016), Angels (2015),  BPXmas (2014),  Of Love and Loss (2012), the digital-only singles 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.