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Bear The Mammoth

In Absence CD

Bear The Mammoth is a progressive post rock band from Melbourne, Australia that formed in 2011.

There are times that I like more progressive instrumental rock that tests you and plays with norms, like the incredible You Slut!. At others I want that feeling of being submerged in the comforting melodies of noodling tremolo guitars against wandering bass and drum lines and perhaps some synth to create a bed. Yes I know there’s a bit of it around and it’s often assumed that it all sounds the same. I suppose if it didn’t transport me to another universe I might say the same, but it does, and I’m not alone on that count. Some has no structure, no sense of movement, contrast and dynamics and is just plain boring. Other examples, like Bear the Mammoth’s debut release, have the right stuff.

The EP, ‘In Absence‘ has three songs and runs a touch over 20 minutes. I’ve seen these guys a couple of times and while this stuff is always better live it’s a damn fine recording that captures the feel of those live performances well. Opening track ‘Rain’ starts off with some slow picked guitar, before layers are introduced building to a joyous crescendo of the sort only two interplaying guitars can create. Pulling back at the four minute mark the mood changes completely – more melancholic perhaps. It’s the sort of confidence found in the big guns like EITS and TWDY that sees the song touch on three distinct feelings while remain a coherent whole. At just under seven minutes it breaks through that five minute zone at which point music like this needs to either finish or start a new slice, and that’s just what it does so well.

The next track, ‘Moonquake’ comes in under that five minute mark and covers considerable ground, playing with timing and effects pedals yet retaining a satisfying flow with a variety of dovetails and layers. The drumming takes on a more important and adventurous role, the song different enough to the opener without going off on a tangent.

The final instalment of this trio is a longer piece that utilises more obvious electronics with a bedrock of deep tones over which tremolo guitars, wandering bass and slow deliberate drumming reach their crescendo before fading away. It’s a good solid track but as I so often find the finish is a bit underdone. It’s probably one of my biggest bugbears with progressive instrumental rock in general and even some of the bigger names fail to nail the finish of a song or record as well as bands like Whale Fall, Rumour Cubes and Shy, Low do.

Despite that, this is the sort of music I can, and regularly do, listen to for hours on end. It’s powerful music live and even on the record, Bear the Mammoth’s songs have that feeling of living and breathing. What you get with ‘In Absence’ is just a taste of what this young band are writing and playing and I’m keen to see what they come up with in the future to build on the great debut.

–Echoes and Dust