Upfront 054 / February 8, 2016

Solar Bears

After a three-year hiatus, Solar Bears are back with an all-new feature-length LP and live show. Dive in to today's Upfront, serving up 50m of never before heard material.

About this mix

Rian: "I have theorized this live setup for a long time. When we started gigging almost five years ago, we were conscious of the lack of performance in live electronic music. In most other musical styles the live performance is rife with imperfections and instabilities. It's more akin to theatre, where the actors at any moment can lose it, and the experience falls to pieces. For us the source of a show's power is in its vulnerability and tension. It's taken about two years to collect all the equipment through trial and error for our current setup. We've got to a stage now where we can react to an audience through moment-by-moment decision-making.

"We have some of our material from previous records that we can reinterpreted at will during the set l as have banks of samples from records we like and sequences for the synths that can be thrown into an improvisation. Any stage of the set can go from calm ambience to really aggressive and intense. You have to be constantly aware and tactile when performing because otherwise it can really turn into a mess very quickly. If a show goes well its because of how we've used our instincts and in this way we are closer to the audience in sharing a unique experience.

"The unreleased material has only just been written, exclusively for the live show. It's a continuous piece. We don't have names for these sections yet excluding 'Komplex', 'Neon Colony' and 'The Quiet Planet' that were on previous releases."

John: "In terms of inspiration we have often talked about Alive 97 by Daft Punk, the sense of rawness and momentum they had back then was very appealing. We are hoping to implement the visuals of Michael Robinson from his vault, as he has overseen the artwork and film for the release. Hitting the road again is really important to us. Meeting people face-to-face along the way.

"Both Rian and I have bought different equipment specifically for touring and the new music we have put together is bound to influence the record we make next. A huge amount of samples has been compiled so we can continue to develop the sound and write as the year progresses. The other main advantage of this free approach is that we can include studio cuts like 'Interzone' or improvise certain segments at will."

John Kowalski & Rian Trench

Boiler Room says...

As Planet Mu put it in Supermigration's press release, Solar Bears "are about layers, a sense of movement and drama." Despite their own sound blending with the musical climate over time, Rian and John have been bringing the heartfelt, elation and emotion to electronic music since their 2010 conception, whilst always maintaining the key to authenticity and originality within their compositions.

Now, after a three-year hiatus, the duo return with the shiny new feature-length Advancement album, as well as an entirely new theorised live show. Today's Upfront serves up a very special selection of music taken from the new show – totally unheard material, as well as reinterpreted and resampled older stuff. Continuing on the same vein as their studio albums, the show will strive to communicate with the audience, almost as an interactive experience with – in Rian's own words – a "moment-by-moment decision-making" approach. The Solar Bear boys are back, showing no signs of faltering yet.

Julia Kisray

Julia Kisray

Julia is Digital Editor & Music Programmer at Boiler Room.