Skip to main content
A Magazine for Sheffield


The spooky, often accidentally experimental public information films of the 1970s are by now a well-mined vein of musical inspiration. Dublin-based Solar Bears pinch the sonic signifiers – the chugging synths, the minor key melodies, the muffled drums – but dispense with the samples and specific geographical references, giving their take on so-called 'hauntology' a more timeless quality.

Haven't we been here before though? Solar's sound will be immediately familiar to anyone au fait with Boards of Canada, and this could easily be an unreleased LP of the Sandison brothers. That's not necessarily a bad thing – BoC are hardly prolific – but it's a comparison that looms unavoidably over the record.

Melodically, tracks like 'Scale' move as slowly as ocean liners, but the restlessly glitchy beats lend them enough propulsion to make some headway. After the dubby ebb and flow of 'Wild Flowers' and the ethereal space walk of 'Persona', the Bears edge towards the dancefloor with the hazy house of 'Gravity Calling', the album's widescreen centrepiece. Unusually for a release influenced by the Ghost Box scene, there doesn't appear to be an overt concept threaded through the tracks, though the titles 'Longer Life' and 'Age Atomic' make a nod to energy.

Three albums in, the duo are adept at drawing warmth from the type of vintage synths that soundtrack a hundred school science tapes. Ironically, Advancement leaves the envelope firmly unpushed, but if overly technical and ever more minimal electronic music doesn't do it for you, this might be the record that welcomes you back in from the cold.

by Sam Gregory (he/him)