Prog wild

By MICHAEL BRODEUR  |  March 31, 2010

A week later, in a van heading toward Portland from San Francisco (where work will commence on a Gonjasufi remix), a slightly bleary-sounding Jon Philpot tells me that with Beast Rest Forth Mouth — which he recorded himself in the band’s Brooklyn practice space and a few stolen middle-of-the-night sessions in a friend’s studio — he sought to make music that was “enjoyable in the bottom of your tailbone, or deep in your guts.” Philpot is a fan of “chaotic recordings,” but BRFM has exquisite control to it. His voice skates across the stuttering arpeggiations of “Wholehearted Mess” in a smooth line that somehow connects the Books to Jane’s Addiction. “Ultimate Satisfaction” is as unimaginably expansive as the gulf between the Shins and M83, but there it is. “Dust Cloud” flips typically insular shoegaze sonics outward into radiant pop climax, and “Deafening Love” thickens out no-wave Branca-isms into a howling post-everthing drone punk. You can pretty much see the spirits of Yes and Genesis high-fiving in the wings off stage between each song.

Even touring one member down as a three-piece (it’s Philpot, guitarist Adam Wills, and drummer Joe Stickney), Bear in Heaven’s live show remains a tenaciously faithful rendition of their recordings — a move that’s about as in vogue as their influences. But at a ripe 35 (indie rock’s 65), Philpot doesn’t seem to give much of a shit about accommodating fashions. “We’ve been consciously at this for a little bit. We could have done music that could have sounded like something else, but this time, we are consciously chasing the dragon.” (Let that line put to rest any doubt that there’s some prog going on here.) “It’s really just about making us happy.”

BEAR IN HEAVEN + CYMBALS EAT GUITARS + FREELANCE WHALES | Middle East downstairs, 480 Mass Ave, Cambridge | April 8 at 9 pm | 18 + | $12 | 617.864.EAST or

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