Lost Bear is one of the many projects including Stefan Breuer, projects that he releases himself on his label Tiny Room Records. The first album I heard from the label was the previous Lost Bear album, through Erwin Zijleman's review on this blog (read here: http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2016/11/inside-dragon-lost-bear.html). It was an album so eclectic that I asked myself whether I was truly hearing what I was hearing or had gone into a spontaneous audiocination. Fact was, I wasn't. Hearing is believing where 'Inside The Dragon' is concerned.
Lost Bear is a five piece band: Gino Miniutti, Casper Steenhuizen, Arno Breuer, Gibson Houwer and Stefan Breuer. Two of the names I recognise as the duo Sven Agaath, who's album 'End Of Latin' was reviewed earlier this year (read here: https://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2017/06/end-of-latin-sven-agaath.html). The five piece has a fondness for discarding convention and play with the structures and texture of songs. Despite the fact that songs may have started out from a "normal" beginning, at the bottom of things this beginning may even still be discernible, to all appearances it is the experiment that is at the forefront and on display.
Donkey Shot is not as diverse as 'Inside The Dragon'. Anything went there, it seems. Each and every idea and snippet of a thought was followed up, investigated, turned inside out, sped up or slowed down. Donkey Shot in that way is far more uniform. Most of the songs are short, under 2.30 and a few even under 2 minutes.
The title of the opening would keep the whole world from ever going into the sea again, if this became true: 'Carnivorous Plankton'. A fairly straightforward song, with a synthesizer carrying the bulk and a wild sweeping lead guitar filling in all the holes in the song.
The synth remains in place in 'Hallways Of Echoes'. For the rest it is the rhythm that goes topsy turvy, the mildly treated voice of Casper Steenhuizen sounds like at least two bottles of wine were involved in the recording sessions and perhaps even more.
No matter how hard Lost Bear tries to treat 'Muscovy' in interesting ways, it remains a great song. By then it is clear that the synthesizer is the main instrument of the album. This gives it an 80s feel. The sound of the early 80s especially when the sky always seemed to be falling down; on a grey day too. That sound comes back extremely strong in 'Rap Song'. Somehow I hated that era musically, but I often find that the children and grandchildren of that musical point in time use the influences but come up with some very nice songs.
The weirdness in a 'Suzy Chreamcheese' kind of way is what comes next. Lost Bear may have gone on a 'Little Big Adventure' in their studio, these kind of songs are hard to sit through for me. Yes, by all means call it music, but it doesn't mean that I do not have the freedom to skip listening to it.
That experimentation can produce nice results is proven by 'Starlings'. A monotonous bass riff, perhaps even a loop, with over it a guitar emulating the sound of a stormswept alarm siren goes on and on for a short period of time, never making me want to stop listening.
In short, Donkey Shot is an album that does not invite me to listen straight away. In fact it does its best to repel. Certainly when listening superficially it succeeds 100%, If I want to read or work during listening, I will turn it off within seconds. However, when I take my time, I discover all these details Driving me onwards to search for more fine details that Lost Bear found and proudly showcases in the respective songs.
With 'Bull Drool' one of the very best songs on the album comes by. Present the song in a bit more conventional way and it would be shining in the middle of a Moss album. The compositional powers of Lost Bear are above par. It seems that it has created a small niche of the musical firmament to present them in. So does that lead to the conclusion that the musicians are more music lovers than interested in commerce and bigger audiences? I seem to arrive at that conclusion.
In 'Back In Reverse', yes, the music is in reverse like its 1967 all over again and '2.000 Light Years From Home' shines through here in a strong way, is another one of those deeply hidden gems and even (almost pure) pop. Starting to appreciate Donkey Shot is like asking yourself 'what do I drink beyond Rivella'? That leaves me with a final message for you: go, go and listen yourself. Prepare yourself, perhaps for the worst, but I've found out that the bracing was very much worth my while.
You can listen to and buy Donkey Shot here: