Volcano The Bear seem to slip underneath the radar; they dredge many of the same soundpools as the zeitgeisty new weird americans - Wooden Wand at their most spastic, Devendra Banhart on a seawater binge - but resolutely remove 'rock' from the equation, refusing the opportunity to wig out a la Sunburned Hand Of The Man, downplaying their instruments the whole time, under-enthusing despite clearly bursting at the seams with good ideas.
They should be massive in their small way but they don't seem to want to compromise; the indie-sharp kids can go only so far into this kind of whimsy - they want their cosmic space dust on toast, packed into an Uncut compilation not thrust into this kind of sweet mangle, not verging into Residents style quackery or, worse, free jazz. And as for the old hippies, the beardy weirdies still shaking Amon Duul, Jane and Guru Guru limpets from their coats, well, Volcano The Bear are perhaps too willfully whimsical for them to get head-nodding to (even if head-nodding is now doctor proscribed and only in their imagination, because of their slipped discs, their war wounds, their atrophied limbs).
Their latest album, the 2CD Classic Erasmus Fusion is their best yet (okay, I've heard about 4); creaking, drifting, exhaling all over the place and yet managing to sound amazingly good as a double album. Everything seems in the right place, with soundworlds shifting effortlessly across the genres (weirdly this happens even when you mix the tracklist up). Some of the songs sound a little like This Heat, or perhaps General Strike, while others could almost be Kevin Ayers, albeit filtered through some particularly blown fuses. This is certainly very English music, it doesn't seem to come from any other place, despite the (probable) ethnostew of their instruments and influences. It's english like Nurse With Wound is english music; surreal and reserved at the same time, not wanting to really let it's hair down like those weird americans, not wanting to give in entirely to the lure of the drone, the sucking black hole of the power chord...
More wyrd than weird but definitely worth your time.