|Strolling through the park the other day, I saw this little panda. I kid you not. It was sitting on a bench reading Hesse. Damian, I think it was. As it flipped through the pages, I sat down next to the panda. Offering it a can of beer, I asked why Hesse was a fascinating read. She replied in an angry tone of voice I'll never forget. "You silly turd of a human. Get your head screwed on right! Beer makes me do some stupid things. Next thing you know, I'll start doing the moonwalk while humming melodies from Volcano the Bear!" Volcano the Bear? Who's that, I asked the panda? "You freaking don't know? They're the best thing to come into my eardrums since I fell asleep to Robert Wyatt singing "At Last I Am Free". They take snippets of everything they find around them and melt them into a joyous concoction. Their soups are delicious but don't fill you up with all the guck.
Volcano the Bear are not dense but their elemental reason for music is to bring hope to other pandas put away in mental asylums. They bring joy to little children who can't express their musical desires. With their ecstatic blend of archetypal percussion, horns galore and beaten-off lyrics, they help old ladies to cross the street. You know, my friend, their crazy medieval sounds are not unlike what zoviet-france did two decades ago. As freaky as you'll ever hear, as melodic as you need to be and spaced-out just right, these guys know their way around the musical palette. If you ask me where these guys are from, I'll say from another galaxy, from another age, long gone and left all alone by the side of the road." Then the panda showed me Volcano the Bear's new CD. She told me she likes to lick the gatefold cover as it reminds her of her native land. As she continued to drink the beer, she began to do the most awkward of moonwalks I'd ever seen. I thanked her for the words of wisdom and strolled casually on my way home. When I read in the newspaper a few days later that the panda was killed by an on-coming car [apparently, she was doing a drunken moonwalk in the middle of a highway], I cried. I knew that pandas know best.
Tom Sekowski May 06