Creatively move as if no one’s watching

Cover of May 26 release, Veckatimest

Cover of May 26 release, Veckatimest

Grizzly Bear makes music that sounds just as good blaring from the speakers of that tinny boombox you keep in the garage for when you wash the car as it does when performed in a church. Though I haven’t tested either venue. I just have an inkling. Phrases like “sonic landscape” and “towering sound” definitely get overused when writing about music, and I’m guilty of trying them out in my sloppier moments. But with a band like Grizzly Bear, they’re almost unavoidable. Like I said when I began this collection of musical musings, I have very little training as a musician and exactly nada of a background in production. Sometimes I really believe that my vocabulary for this quasi-job is comparable to a kindergartener’s.

But maybe kindergarten is as good a place as any to start to explain Grizzly Bear. Kindergarten kicked ass, didn’t it? You could nap for part of the day. Homework and studying were far-off, frightening activities for grownups. And daily assignments included storytimes, frequent arts and crafts (and bonus snacktimes, if you were one of those kids who ate paste), and physical education games that didn’t result in being picked last because of your asthma. We actually had a woman who came in and “taught” us in a segment known as creative moment. You can probably guess. Music played from the traveling teacher’s personal radio, and we were instructed to stretch and pose our little limbs based on what the music was doing. Something calm and languidly paced meant a lot of arms swimming in the air. A staccato, quick tune meant a lot of bouncing and running in place. And sometimes the teacher would stop the music and have us freeze until it the pause button was released. Looking back on those lessons now, I think the creative movement instructor was preparing everyone in my class for an adulthood of glorious, unabashed ass-shaking at countless clubs and living rooms across the world. And for that, she has my perennial gratitude.

So I think about what you might do in a creative movement class if your teacher happened to be into Grizzly Bear. The possibilities are limitless. You could glide across the floor for their sweeping, grandiose points where the layers of instrumentation sound as if they’re coming from an entire orchestra. In the rarer bouncier moments, or when the percussions pick up the tempo, you could choreograph your own trapeze routine. Or you could freeze and wait to hear Ed Droste’s, Chris Taylor’s, Chris Bear’s, and Dan Rossen’s (when he’s not composing and singing for Department of Eagles) soaring, impeccable harmonies. Then you can reward yourself with some cheese and crackers and a quick nap for all your good work.

Grizzly Bear’s upcoming album, Veckatimest, will be released on May 26. Grizzly Bear will play at the Aladdin Theater on Sunday, May 24. Foreign Born will also play.

  • Grizzly Bear ~ Veckatimest ~ Warp

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