"Holy sonic icons. There is hauntology at work. Hauntology right in the center of their work. Shimmering, mighty." -Max Reinhardt (Soho Radio/BBC Radio 3, London UK)
"Epic and affecting" - Surface Noise
"Great, beautiful drifty-pop filled with sadness and wonder" - Irene Trudel, WFMU
"Magical, majestic, unforgettable, essential" - Indiemusic (France)
"Mysterious. Otherworldly. An emotional musical journey." - Carson Street, KFJC
"Mesmerizing. A tiny gem that beguiles." -The Sound Projector (UK)
"Significant, stirring and addictive" - Ground Control
"Celestial and spell-bounding compositions alternating between spoken word and emotional flights of lyricism, astounding us with beauty. Brilliant, luminous and cathartic. Puts shoegaze back into a state of grace"- Les Oreilles Curieuses (France)
Pronounced "holy sonic icons" by legendary BBC 3/Soho Radio broadcaster Max Reinhardt, their work described by France’s Les Oreilles Curieuses as "celestial and spell-bounding compositions alternating between spoken word and emotional flights of lyricism, astounding us with beauty - brilliant, luminous and cathartic”, Bipolar Explorer are an NYC-based experimental dreamscape trio consisting of Summer Serafin (vocals, spoken word), Michael Serafin-Wells (guitars, vocals, bass, synth, organ, melodica, tape loops and percussion) and Sylvia Solanas (spoken word French/English, backing vocals).
Having released eleven albums and seven singles to date on independent NYC label Slugg Records, the band's latest album - In The Hours Left Until Dawn - was released on April 7, 2023. A double-album, 22 tracks over two discs and two hours, it weaves together strands of the experimental, the ambient, spoken word, field recordings sprinkled with instrumentation and shoegaze-y compositions in a kind of eclectic, deep-listening dreamscape.
By May of 2023, the new album had already made the Heavily Played Albums charts of both New York's WFMU and California's KFJC and been hailed by the UK's music zine A Closer Listen as "a sprawling suite of instrumentals, sung and spoken word. Loss permeates the music, gracing it with a tragic mystery” and Italy's White Light/White Heat as Pick of the Week. The album also enjoyed extensive play on London's Resonance FM and Montreal's CKUT, who called it, "just a gorgeous, gorgeous album" going on to say of the group that "a lot of their music has a really strong spiritual undercurrent and maybe never more evident than on this new record."
Shortly after the double-album's release, Michael sat down for interviews with both Fringes of Sound editor Lars Haur and later with legendary BBC 3 and Soho Radio broadcaster Max Reinhardt, the latter saying "The new album I think somehow breaks new ground for holy sonic icons, Bipolar Explorer, because it feels and sounds like a whole, an unstoppable beating heart that's emanating fragile sonics and thoughts and words at the fringes of consciousness and subconsciousness, sleep and waking, dream and vision." Both interviews can be heard and/or seen on this site. The Fringes of Sound interview here and Max Reinhardt's "Late Lunch Show" here - Michael's segment opens the second hour of the two hour program.
Their previous album, their 10th - Forests, Voices, Coastlines, Dreams: Recordings for The Dark Outside - was released December 1, 2021. Hailed by the great Irene Trudel (WFMU) pronouncing it, “Wondrous! A great album!”, the new record has also found favor with legendary BBC 3 and Soho Radio (London) DJ, Max Reinhardt, proclaiming it “Sublime. Maybe their finest. Brilliant. Brilliant.”
The band’s 9th album, the double-album Deux Anges, was named to four Best Albums of the Year lists in 2020, including, again, that of BBC and Soho Radio broadcaster, Max Reinhardt, who pronounced the album “shimmering”, going on to say, “there is hauntology at work, hauntology right in the center of their work.”
The release of Deux Anges prompted California’s groundbreaking KFJC to devote a three hour broadcast to the band in late September 2020, looking back at the group’s previous albums from 2012’s Of Love and Loss and 2015’s Angels (both Ground Control Magazine Albums of the Year), 2016’s Dream Together and 2018’s Sometimes in Dreams (both cited by France’s Indiemusic as “magical and majestic - a tour-de-force” and “unforgettable and essential - a major record”), 2018’s Til Morning Is Nigh and the band’s more experimental music recordings for the UK’s The Dark Outside.
Hailed by sources as diverse as The Netherlands Radio Hoogeveen’s post-rock show DeMist and dark ambient program Fog Cast on London’s Resonance-FM in their Best Albums of 2020, by May of 2021 Deux Anges had charted in the Heavily Played Records lists of both the aforementioned KFJC (at #21) and the great WFMU (at #28).
A rather apt distillation of the cross-genre work the band has come to embody, Deux Anges brings together the desperate strands of 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 their kind of signature.
Again, Max Reinhardt (BBC/Soho Radio) says of the record’s eclecticism: “it’s sort of... well, lots of reference - to The Velvet Underground and somehow or other somewhere between Sonic Youth and ‘The Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus’ , but you kind of... you float with it. It makes you float. It’s all so different! And I just have to say, the more you listen to the album, the double- album, the better it gets....”
The renowned London zine The Sound Projector, in an exceptionally glowing review by editor Ed Pinsent characterizes the album as “... steeped in a very wistful melancholy, a poignant longing. Lyrics emerge as a form of prayer and we continue to find allusions to the afterlife, heaven, angels, mortality, ghosts, miracles... and compassion, empathy, and hope. At two CDs and three hours, there’s also a lot of it to listen to, but BPX never outstay their welcome with their unassuming tone and the gentle, lulling pull of their mesmerizing songs."
Instructive as to the band’s process is the 2019 documentary directed and shot by Sylvia Solanas for Slugg Records, The Making of “Til Morning Is Nigh.” Comprised of an six-part interview with Michael, filmed on location in iconic settings around New York City, and including five videos from Til Morning (2018) itself, the film was rolled out episodically over six consecutive weeks on the band’s YouTube channel and can now be seen in its entirety both there and on the Slugg Records website.
As to the group’s origins and mission, forging a unique sound - once 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” - well serves the new songs Serafin-Wells began writing in the aftermath of the unthinkable 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 the upcoming In The Hours Left Until Dawn (April 2023), Forests, Voices, Coastlines, Dreams: Recordings For The Dark Outside (2021), Deux Anges (2020) 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 eleven:eleven (2020), The Dark Outside, The Light Within (2019), 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.