Bipolar Explorer

 
 

About the band

Bipolar Explorer

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 trio - 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.

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 newest record, Dream Together, is released on Slugg Records New Years Day 2017. A special pre-sale offers the first single from the new album, Radioside, starting December 18th.

Recorded, mixed and produced by the band at The Shrine in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen, Dream Together is the group’s sixth album overall and their second in just the span of a year.  

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 Renner-Dennis, who is making a documentary, Sonic Prayer, about the band.

Having begun work on a live performance art adaptation of their double-album, 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 early-2017 - Serafin-Wells says,“the idea of a female voice, a spoken word narrator, came to mind. To tell the story in tandem with the band, supported by film projections. And once I wrote the narrative voice for the live Of Love, that 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 Yale’s Evan Yionoulis and several visual artist friends of the band, both Of Love and Loss and Dream Together are 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.

In conversation with Ground Control, Serafin-Wells once 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, 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. 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 Dream Together (2017), Electric Hymnal (2016), Angels (2015),  their holiday album - 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.