Bear in Heaven’s fourth LP, Time Is Over One Day Old, is a moment of shedding and letting go. Like its predecessors (including their 2009 breakout, Beast Rest Forth Mouth), it’s filled with seductive sonic landscapes: tribal tom-tom rhythms, kraut-rock bass grooves, lush synthesizers, the ethereal glide of Jon Philpot’s tenor voice. But Time is also memorable for what it cuts away from their previously expansive and bombastic sound.
Overall, Time is the band’s quietest, most meditative album, and also the most subtle: “The Sun and the Moon and the Stars” is transfixing and mantra-like; on the sparse crawl of “Memory Heart,” new drummer Jason Nazary avoids his snare, his booming toms snaking around Adam Wills’s bass and a funhouse synth that springs like a mouth-harp. Philpot’s vocal hook on “Way Off” isn’t so much the song’s two-note melody, but the way he articulates it, accentuating the sensual darkness in the interval. These songs have a newfound ebb and flow, a sense of tension and release.
The most startling moment arrives halfway through “They Dream”: After building an impressive synth-rock drone, the song suddenly dissolves, leaving only Philpot’s harmonized voice and a distant synth buzz. “And he really loves her,” he sings, elongating each syllable into the ether. “And she really loves him.” Bear in Heaven’s music has always been impressive in a technical sense, but rarely has it offered such emotional clarity.