For the past six years, Seattle's Minus the Bear have orbited the music world like a distant meteor, fine-tuning their brand of indie rock and discovering how technology can help enhance the band's unique pop vision all of which is about to culminate with their latest full-length Planet of Ice, an album showing the band not so much transforming their sound as transcending it. Although the band has released a handful of EPs and two full-lengths in their prolific career (most recently 2005's Menos El Oso and the sister remix CD Interpretaciones Del Oso), with Planet of Ice the band which now features new keyboardist Alex Rose have taken their brand of idiosyncratic indie rock to new heights. I feel like this is the most cohesive record we've done, bassist Cory Murchy says. I hate the term 'organic,' but that's the one term I can think of when comparing this to our other records because there's a lot of weird electronic stuff going on there, but there's some really raw riffage as well.
Minus the Bear's Planet of Ice
marks the Seattle band's third full-length release (not counting three EPs and a remix album), and achieves an effect as spacious and blinding white as the landscape the title evokes. Psychedelia and math rock are here in equal parts, making for a somewhat bi-polar listening experience--the excellent "Part 2" opens with a downright Pink Floydian acoustic guitar before winding up to a driving circuitous conclusion, while nine-minute closer "Lotus" reels all over the stylistic map, starting and stopping in a mini-suite of hammering guitars and vaporous keyboards. Most songs keep well away from a standard verse-chorus structure, with lyric and instrumental passages stitched together like some indie rock Frankenstein (tracks are occasionally book-ended by wittily realized sonic manipulations that might cause the listener to check the CD for skips), but Minus the Bear keeps the melodies potent and the emotion high enough to prevent Planet of Ice
from drifting into impenetrable shoe-gazer territory. --Ben Heege