Bearcat is hypnotic and kinetic on new EP SPELL - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

As co-founder, DJ and curator at Seltzer, one of Philly’s premiere queer dance parties, Bearcat as producer tends to find their sound in the heart of eclecticism.

Bearcat’s newest EP SPELL sparkles with an energy that feels both sinister and kinetic, oftentimes in the same song. Sounds move and flow through this work with a ghost-like creep, evoking the dreamier, gothier moments of England record label Nite Grooves, where artists like Kingdom were laying dark sounds and trippy soundscapes over club beats. On SPELL’s openener “Sight” and follow up “Conjurer”, Bearcat takes thing down, like, five notches, the beat never reaching the wild electro-vogue-disco of say Kingdom’s “Stalker Ha” or the beastial, robotic faux trap of Girl Unit’s “Wut.”

The songs here are meditative bits of electronic dirge, as hypnotic as they are unnerving. On “Conjurer,” a rolling, distorted bassline pulses underneath chimes and Blade Runner-esque synth lines, only to be stabbed through with piercing samples of ethereal screams. For SPELL, even when the beat crosses into manic territory, like on “Bells”, there’s still a darker undercurrent, as each witchy sound criss-crosses into various screeches, blips and, well, bells. The effect is a “Exorcist theme song on speed” that seeks to entrance but mostly dizzies.

London-born and Philly-residing, Bearcat’s sound is a welcome amalgamation of London’s darkest, grimiest beats and Philly’s wild eclecticism– an electronic punk rock that has spawned acts like DJ Haram and Moor Mother’s collab 700 Bliss and young upstarts in bands like Ghosh.

Immediately following “Bells” is the drum-smashing jungle chaos of the Sean Paul sampled “Bluebearpaul.” It’s two and a half minutes of manic drums, distorted cymbal crashes and meandering vocal samples that give way to beautiful synth pads. It’s the kind of song that needs to be heard on an impossibly loud sound system, in a sweaty club basement, the kind of track that makes you curse COVID and our nation’s response to it for not letting this happen. The song feels like a reward for making it through the darker, murkier moments on this EP. As moody and varied as this record is, it’s also brief. With just four songs, its sonic beauty and industrial approach to sound-scaping will leave you thirsting for more.

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