Shark and Bear – By Sea, By Air, By Land EP

Shark and Bear
By Sea, By Air, By Land EP

I have tremendous respect for the singer/guitarists of math rock. It takes a HECK of a lot of talent to play disjointed, disconnected, dis-everything guitar riffs and keep in time. It takes a whole lot more to sing over the chaotic lines as you play them.
Shark and Bear is a perfect example of how math rockers can do both perfectly. In fact, this album should be in every aspiring math rocker’s CD collection, as it’s a virtual handbook to math rock. The songs here are extremely complex and technical – I have no idea how they can even remember them. The guitars splinter off into wild tangents, then fuse back together in fantastic flourishes; they stab the notes with little beauty, then slide back into smooth sections that bridge the gap between jazz and math rock.
But before I do Shark and Bear injustice, I must comment that the band isn’t strictly about guitars. The bass accompanies with thunder, but isn’t afraid to drop in a cool riff here and there (as in “Flammable, Ignored”). And the complexity of this band doesn’t just apply to guitars, as the drums are permanently in freak-out mode as well. Delicate, wispy vocals float around in an unearthly manner above this pandemonium, as Andrew Wagner sounds amazingly like David Gimenez from Mae. Wagner’s pretty voice cavorting over the fractured riffs creates an odd crunch that lends even more creativity to Bear and Shark’s sound. Every member of this band is at the top of their form instrumentally, and they have all put in magnificent performances here.
The three songs here are equally brilliant, and by describing them all I would be doing them an injustice. This isn’t a sound that can be analyzed. You have to hear this to fully understand it. This is math rock for hardcore fans of the genre, and for people who have never heard it before. Whoever you are, you will enjoy this, because it’s so thoroughly good.