At strange hours, the line between what’s real and what’s imagined can easily blur. Dreams become richer, real life becomes surreal. While time seems to pass at an eerily slow rate, fatigue shields one to mundane truth while whispering of colourful possibilities. Supermigration captures this sensation, the feeling when one gets lost between night and day. The second album from Solar Bears often sprints across these boundaries of sleepy confusion and all-out fantasy. It’s playful and imaginative in a way that modern life rarely allows us to be.
Opener ‘Stasis’ is deceptive enough. It’s the sound of barflies congregating around the piano at last call, with sharp, soulful keys making for a downbeat start, but one that eases the listener into the Supermigration experience. The transition into ‘Cosmic Runner’, however, is a powerful jolt that opens the album up to kaleidoscopic grandeur. In an instant, Supermigration shifts from regretful monotone into glorious technicolour, with a flowing guitar riff that deliciously saturates the band’s palette.
Vivid but still worn and lived-in, ‘Alpha Love’ is underlined by a retro-futurism that bleeds into the hymnal ‘Love Is All’ and much of the album as a whole. The sound is full and deeply contoured, there to consume the ears and not the other way round, but the more you listen, the more this album sounds like some wonderful combination of Crystal Maze and The Soft Bulletin, with ‘You and I’ best capturing Solar Bears as a contemporary, instumentalist take on the Flaming Lips. Indeed, only two of Supermigration‘s twelve tracks have lyrics and there are barely any vocals; it is a wordless bedfellow, probably more conducive in its voicelessness to the sort of dream-like quality Supermigration aspires to, although it can pass by unnoticed as a result.
The early going is, at times, soothing, but the album’s back half is monstrous and pointed skyward, as ‘Rising High’, ‘Happiness Is a Warm Spacestation’ and ‘Rainbow Collision’ can attest. ‘A Sky Darkly’ is the apex of this stratospheric rise: all-conquering with its throbbing bass-synth and shimmying guitars that give way to carnage, pure carnage. It is in moments like ‘A Sky Darkly’ and ‘Komplex’ that Supermigration transcends earthly fetters and reaches for something more appealing, something greater and yet still unknowable. The closing tracks eschew the idea of real life and revel in musical fantasy. Much like the earlier ‘The Girl that Played with the Light’, there’s lethal intent in the rhythm, a desire to move forward and not to dawdle in vague lucidity.
What do you want more than anything when awoken from a dream? To go back to it, to relive it. But one is invariably unable to commence dreaming again once they’ve been alerted to reality – life isn’t Inception. Supermigration lingers in the chasm between consciousness and imagination before giving itself over to the full, unabashed scope of the inner-mind. Guitars fly, synths probe and voices coo like they could do on any number of records, but Supermigration is the sound of discovery.