Bipolar Explorer

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Bipolar Explorer
BPX Summer&Michael.jpg
Summer and Michael, cofounders of indie band Bipolar Explorer
Background information
OriginNew York City, United States
GenresDreampop, Shoegaze, Post-Rock
Years active2008–present
LabelsSlugg Records
Websitebipolarexplorer.info
MembersSummer Serafin
Michael Serafin-Wells

Bipolar Explorer is an American dreampop band from New York City. Formed in its present state and genre by band co-founders Summer Serafin (vocals, spoken word) and Michael Serafin-Wells (guitars, bass guitar, percussion, vocals, spoken word), the group has released six albums and four singles on Slugg Records beginning with 2012’s double-album “Of Love and Loss”.

Formation and Of Love And Loss[edit]

After an initial indie rock release - “Go Negative” (2005, Slugg Records) featuring former Uncle bandmates Michael Serafin-Wells (songwriter, guitars, bass guitar, vocals) and Yves Gerard (drums, backing vocals) - still very much in the style of their previous group, Bipolar Explorer changed direction and personnel re-configuring under the influence of co-founder and vocalist Summer Serafin.

Debuting the new sound in live performance at New York’s Cooper Square Hotel, PopMatters described the band as “eclectic, powerful and steadfast” [1] and the group began work on an EP recording for Slugg Records in Brooklyn.

Before it could be completed, on March 18, 2011, Ms. Serafin passed away after a tragic accident. She was just 31.

Many months later, armed with newly written songs post-tragedy, Serafin-Wells and the band returned to those recordings and in October 2012 released a double-album of, for and about Ms. Serafin. Entitled “Of Love and Loss”, Ground Control Magazine’s Daryl Darko Barnett pronounced it “the most significantly stirring and addictive musical accomplishment we’ve come across in some time”, naming it to their Critics Poll of Best Albums of the Year.

Angels and BPXmas[edit]

At the end of 2014, the band released two albums in quick succession, a holiday one “BPXmas” on December 3, 2014 and “Of Love and Loss”’s follow-up, “Angels” on New Year’s Day 2015.

Both critically acclaimed, NPR’s “On Being[2] noted the band’s reworking holiday classics in their signature dream pop style and both albums began rotation on WFMU, notably finding favor with the station’s legendary deejay Irene Trudel who called their sound “great, beautiful drifty-pop”.[3]

Ground Control’s Daryl Darko Barnett wrote a feature about the former “Bipolar Explorer Work a Double-Shift Through the Holidays” and ended 2015 by naming “Angels” to his number one spot in the magazine’s Best Albums of the Year round up, calling it “electrifying -what music fueled by raw love and emotions sounds like”.[4]

Electric Hymnal[edit]

In June 2016, the band released their fifth album, a collection of devotional songs and spoken word, both sacred and secular, described as “a sonic prayer” for their fallen bandmate, Ms. Serafin. Their first foray into the use of spoken word as a component of their sound, Serafin-Wells would return to its use, composing narrative poetry for a female voice and underscoring it with ambient, post-rock guitars in subsequent releases. Again, Ground Control hailed the work "...Get ready to be swept up and away by a prayerful reverie of melodies. Listening, I began to feel like I was flying. Don’t forget that Bipolar Explorer is a post-rock band. Low growling vocals, gnarly grinding tempos, rhythmic looping strands that escape and rise above the weight of this world, where angels and the living mingle..." [5]

Featuring album art by American artist Michael Creese, “Electric Hymnal” was released as a limited-edition CD only (no digital) and given away by the band to fans upon request as “a gift of faith”.

Dream Together[edit]

On New Year’s Day 2017, the band released their sixth album, “Dream Together”. WFMU’s Liz Berg featuring tracks on her show called it “just a great record”.[6] Again, WFMU’s Irene Trudel, praising it as “beautiful, full of sadness and wonder”.[7] The album made its way onto the charts of California’s free-form KDVS, as well, starting as the station’s #4 New Add the first week of January and rising to #18 overall in the weeks after.[8]

Reaching Europe, the album was praised by France’s Indiemusic as “Magical and majestic - an ultimate tour-de-force” .[9]

On February 20, 2017, the magazine’s Associate Editor, Raphael Duprez, followed up with an interview with Michael. In answer to a question about how he and the band continue in light of the tragic events of 2011 he replied, “All of this is entirely for her. I often say that our music, each album, is of, for and about her. It’s my way of telling people about her and talking to her myself. That’s the “for’ and “about” parts of the equation. And Summer remains an integral part of the band - not only as its inspiration but, because I have lots of her isolated vocals from other recording sessions - as her voice, both spoken and singing, graces each record. I’ll write songs and fly in her voice. Summer isn’t the main reason BPX goes on, she’s the only reason. She is the reason. And I think I can trust that I’m doing things for the right reason if I always know the reason for it is her. Not out of any ambition other than to honor and conjure her. She’s my conscience.” [10]

Sometimes In Dreams - Present Day[edit]

On New Year’s Day 2018, the band released their seventh album, a double-album, called Sometimes in Dreams. Surface Noise’s Joe McGasko called it “Epic and affecting”,[11] the new album again found its way quickly onto playlists at WFMU, notably both Irene Trudel [12] and Gaylord Field’s [13] shows, on Tuesday and Sunday nights, respectively.

On January 2, France’s Indiemusic called the new album “Unforgettable and essential. Have no doubt, this is a major record.” [14]

By May 2018, Sometimes in Dreams had reached the #19 position on WFMU's album charts, leading medium rotation and officially entered the North American College and Community Radio (NACC) charts, tracking college radio airplay in the US and Canada.[15]

Former and Affiliated Members[edit]

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

  • Of Love And Loss – (2012)
  • BPXmas (2014)
  • Angels (2015)
  • Electric Hymnal (2016)
  • Dream Together (2017)
  • Sometimes in Dreams (2018)
  • Go Negative (earlier indie rock line up - 2005)

Singles[edit]

  • Downtown Train (2015)
  • We’ll All Go Together (2016)
  • Watchers and Holy Ones (2017)
  • Better Girl (2018)

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Bipolar Explorer: 2.Mar.10 - New York". popmatters.com. 16 March 2010. Archived from the original on 23 June 2011. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  2. ^ "Reimagining a Christmas Classic". The On Being Project. Archived from the original on 2 March 2018. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  3. ^ "The Remains of Holiday Revelry: Irene Trudel's show". WFMU. Archived from the original on 5 October 2016. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  4. ^ "This Was The Year in Music - The Best of 2015 - Ground Control Magazine". groundcontrolmag.com. 8 January 2016. Archived from the original on 15 September 2016. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  5. ^ "Bipolar Explorer - [Album] - Ground Control Magazine". groundcontrolmag.com. 26 June 2016. Archived from the original on 2 June 2017. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  6. ^ "Tiki drinks and other resolutions: Liz Berg's show". WFMU. Archived from the original on 10 September 2017. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  7. ^ "Songs splashing across the pond, with Hamish Hawk and Viking Moses: Irene Trudel's show". WFMU. Archived from the original on 7 July 2017. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  8. ^ "Today's Aberration Tomorrow's Fashion". kdvs.org. Archived from the original on 2 March 2018. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  9. ^ "[LP] Bipolar Explorer – Dream Together". indiemusic.fr. 17 January 2017. Archived from the original on 22 January 2017. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  10. ^ "[Interview] Bipolar Explorer". indiemusic.fr. 20 February 2017. Archived from the original on 22 February 2017. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  11. ^ "Red Herring: Surface Noise with Joe McGasko". WFMU. Archived from the original on 2 March 2018. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  12. ^ "Voices in solidarity, with a live set by Barbez.: Irene Trudel's show". WFMU. Archived from the original on 2 March 2018. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  13. ^ "Highbury Fields Forever: Gaylord Fields's show". WFMU. Archived from the original on 2 March 2018. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  14. ^ "[LP] Bipolar Explorer – Sometimes in Dreams". indiemusic.fr. 2 January 2018. Archived from the original on 2 March 2018. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  15. ^ "WFMU Recent Airplay + News, May 5th, 2018". blogfiles.wfmu.org. Archived from the original on 18 June 2018. Retrieved 18 June 2018.

External links[edit]