4 March 2017

Bearcubs - Underwaterfall EP


Bearcubs is the alias of electronic producer of 25-year old Jack Ritchie. According to the PR information that came with this release (and I quote); He’s been putting out material for the past 2 years, and has honed in on a distinctly unique blend of emotive electronic, future garage and lo-fi house music, which has seen him heavily championed across the radio airwaves, with ‘Chroma‘ added to the BBC Radio 1 Introducing Playlist with the likes of Annie Mac, Zane Lowe, Danny Howard and Monki playing his material.  Whilst this is not the sort of thing that I normally go for (it usually tends to be one of the other guys on the blog who gets this sort of stuff), it has fallen to me to review this one.  Time to see what this EP is all about......
01 – Burning Up

With minimal noise, space and repeating percussion, Bearcubs let ‘Burning Up’ start this EP very slowly and it keeps it there.  This is a minimalist version of electronica which reminds me a lot of Animal Collective, Radiohead ‘Kid A’ period and Panda Bear, it has lots of spaces for your mind to be lost in, but it has some heavy bass that gives the song its pulse.

02 – Underwaterfall

Starting with that same minimal feeling, ‘Underwaterfall’ could have been the same song to be honest, but the noise rises as the song progressives and you can hear strange noises as the song moves along.  It is an incredibly interesting number, one that makes you think it is going in one direction and then it moves with serpent like speed and has this fascinating chorus that haunts you for long after it has finished with its clockwork percussion driving that section to larger heights.

03 – False Mirrors

‘False Mirrors’ could have been the song of the EP, it was so very close to it and then it failed.  Let me explain, Bearcubs have a pattern of playing – slow and sparse start which builds to a louder chorus section, lapse back into silence and then repeat the build.  But it is repeated throughout the release and this song hinted at more than that and a change; it was so very close, but it missed.

04 – SL001

Ending this ep is ‘SL001‘ which is screaming for a remix and just a tiny bit more percussion, if anything it sort of perfectly sums up this release.  There is some great synth work on this song, it builds nicely and then it goes nowhere, retreats to the original starting point to rise again and fade out to the end. 

For what it is worth, this release is a decent for post-minimalist electronic that does not want to be driven be the beat of loud drums, tons of synth and the pop charts.  Forging your own path is always important and I think that Bearcubs will rise to higher success without the likes of me ruining the party, it is just not music for me.  I cannot fault the ideas of the music per se,  it has some good passages on each song and it is great when the bass is turned up loud.  However, the same pattern is played out in each of the songs, to the point where you can predict before the music starts when the changes are happening (even when hearing these songs for the first time) and it feels like it has been said before without anything new being added to the genre.  Not a bad release, but not making enough of an impression to stand out either.

2.5 out of five - Not bad, not good - so average it is zen

Top track - Underwaterfall



At the time of release, this is not on streaming sites.  I will update any links if it is up by release date (10th March 2017).

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