Review: noemienours – As a Bear Doth her Whelps

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Label: Self-released

Now on to record number three, the aesthetic of noemienours is becoming well-established. Rooted in an underground DIY mindset, and with a vegan perspective, the music on these records is beautifully low-fi, filled with a tension and tenderness that is at once arresting and soothing; the kind of music that is perfectly suited for late-night listening, to quieten the noise in your head. New record As a Bear Doth her Whelps continues to use bears as a central part of imagery and aesthetic, but increasingly this feels like a metaphor to express ideas about isolation, society, and disconnect from nature. It’s sad, beautiful, and quite moving.

As with previous record Bear Meditations, there’s a notable improvement in the recording and production quality compared to past releases, with more of the melodies and rhythms coming through clearly and strongly rather than being buried in tape hiss. It means that, whereas previous records were perhaps more notable for atmosphere than individual moments, those individual moments now come through stronger, without any sacrifice of atmosphere. And as ever, space and pauses are just as important as the actual notes in terms of the impact of the songs, with As a Bear… providing a good example of how quiet and, at points, near-silence can be every bit as effective as crashing chords.

Likewise, the songs are, on average, longer than before, giving them more time to build up and envelop the listener in their soothing, warm-yet-sparse atmospheres. Even at points when the music is so sparse as to almost stop – as during the nine minute title track – the narrative thread of the record and the aura it conjures is still maintained, bringing to mind mental images of lonely forests in winter, gloriously untouched by human hands. It may not be a substitute for actually going out and exploring nature – frankly, nothing is – but the record comes very close to creating that same feeling of connection to something bigger; and also loneliness, resulting from an awareness of one’s place in the grand scheme of things.

As a Bear Doth her Whelps is a soothing, refreshing record, with a kind of quiet catharsis about it. The inclusion of more instrumental tracks feels like a smart decision, with some moments – such as closing track ‘Ursus Arctis Wonderfilis’ coming across as something close to a low-fi, ultra-sparse version of modern Earth. It is a beautiful, quietly powerful record, that manages to convey a moving sense of emotion. Relaxing, sad, and yet also spiritually cleansing, As a Bear Doth her Whelps is a beautiful record that is sure to help with those times when it’s past midnight and you simply can’t wind down.

As a Bear Doth her Whelps is due for release on 10 September 2018, and can be ordered digitally and on vinyl via Bandcamp.

 

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