Michael Louis Serafin-Wells

 
 

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Dream Together - CD and digital album

Their sixth album, the band follow up their critically-acclaimed albums "Of Love And Loss" and "Angels" (Best Albums of the Year, 2013 & 2015 - Ground Control Magazine) with this breathtaking new work. "Eclectic, steadfast, powerful" - PopMatters. CD includes beautiful 20-page booklet with lyrics, vintage photos and narrative poems in the style of a Victorian book of verses.

 

BIPOLAR EXPLORER- DREAM TOGETHER
Review by Raphael Duprez
January 17, 2017
Dans Chroniques
Indiemusic (France)


"..New York’s Bipolar Explorer offers a new album, their sixth, Dream Together (Slugg Records) which is as much a reverie as a dream burning and crawling gently under our bare skins. In perpetual search for the discovery of the unknown, the trio delivers a work as simple as it is majestic and pure.

The guitars charged with reverb and delay, voices and choruses distant but warm, all in an atmosphere as moist as light, like a refreshing breeze before the storm. Daring and emotionally naked, doubtless this record may undo some. But we must yield to the temptation, the inexorable attraction of these magical and nostalgic, deep and milky songs.

Alternatingly dark ("Thirteen", “View”), angelic and aerial (“Dream 3”), painful and urgent (“She Hears You Calling”), catching and cathartic, the album closes with the ten-minute epic "To The Other Half Of The Sky” - loaded with palpable electricity as well as an ultimate tour de force in softness - the group relaxing its muscles and leaving notes hovering long after its ultimate resonances.

Devilishly endearing, Dream Together offers that rare possibility for us to traverse vast lands, leaving so primordial a place for our imagination, all by means of sonics that are literally enveloping and vibrating. A LP that is drunk, slowly, to better quench thirst. A walk through the clouds, without worrying about the next day..."        (- excerpt, translated from the original French)

Collected Plays - Print and e-book versions of six original plays in anthology

"LaBute territory with fresh angles and sustained tension" - The New York Times

 

"Hails the arrival of a writer with an acute sense of language and a special ability to dramatize human behavior through language that rivets with its imagery and humor" - The Star-Ledger

 

Indie publishers The Ginger Press present this first anthology of Michael's works for the theatre in both print and e-book form. With special dedication to his late-girlfriend, love and partner, Summer Serafin. This collection includes the plays District of Columbia, Seven Pages Unsigned, Real Real Gone, The "I" Word: Interns, Detail and Two From the Line. (c. 2014, The Ginger Press, Ltd.)

Angels - CD and mp3 album

"Brilliant. Ranging from moody shoegaze to jangly dreampop with a sturdy bit of the ruins of CBGB's ungirding the lot." - Ground Control Magazine

 

Released on New Year's Day 2015, this EP is Bipolar Explorer's follow-up to their acclaimed double-record (Ground Control "Album of the Year") Of Love and Loss. An electrifying and evocative collection of five new songs - recorded, according to the band, "live, noisily and in a hurry" at their studio in Hell's Kitchen.

Of Love and Loss - Double-record (2 CDs and/or mp3 album)

Critic's Pick - Best Albums of the Year

"The most significantly stirring and addictive musical accomplishment we've come across in some time." - Ground Control Magazine

 

This double-record is of, for and about the group's fallen bandmate, Michael's Love & Partner, Summer Serafin. From NYC's premiere Minimalist Indie Dreampop Rock band...

 

"Of Love and Loss, the new record from NYC-based Bipolar Explorer is something of a departure from their previous work, it is at once quieter and more far-reaching. It is eclectic and spare, and altogether haunting.

The band, it turns out, was already staking out new ground before they recorded the first wave of songs for what would become this record. Having pared down to a drummerless core of two guitars, bass and vocals, BPX’s new sound was emerging as something more taut, emotional and urgent, and Serafin-Wells found himself writing different kinds of songs. “Somebody said of the last record that it was Westerberg meets Pavement by way of Wire, and that’s probably about right because that’s where we came from. But writing for this line-up and without drums changed that. And, of course, I met Summer and that changed everything,” he says, speaking of Summer Serafin, his love and partner, the band’s female vocalist. “I mean, she changed my life, clearly. But just in terms of the music, I think we started to go toward something that better served all that and closer to the kind of thing people – Low, Death Cab, Bon Iver – we love, were getting up to.”

Then, after a series of transcendent live shows and halfway into basic tracks for the new record, tragedy struck. Just thirty-one, Summer died from injuries sustained after an accidental fall.

Eventually picking up the pieces in the midst of their grief, the reconfigured band (with Jason Sutherland on second guitar and Eva Potter on bass) - armed with a second wave of songs written in the aftermath –completed the record, now a double CD. “It’s really of, for and about her”,
Michael says of Of Love and Loss. “My everything”.

Perhaps fittingly and, I learn, entirely intentionally, the post and pre-tragedy batches of songs are interwoven together. “Yeah, it’s not chronological”, he tells me “in terms of when things were written. But I spent a lot of time on the sequence. Of both discs. What was on disc one or on disc two and where it went. And we tried to keep in mind doubles that we liked. Like Zen Arcade. Or Being There. To tell this story.” Love is a mixtape, I think to myself, because Of Love and Loss isn’t merely a collection of songs or anything as prog as a quote/unquote concept album.

It’s more a testament. A testament of love which leaves one with more emotions than thoughts, in a way. Alive, infused with love and spirit and resurrection – Summer’s presence palpable and ever so slightly haunting (that word, again) – in a magical way.

“We just wanted to be together all the time and I just wanted to write for her. And she was so fucking magic intuitive. I mean, you can hear it on the tracks. Especially the one that closes Disc two, the second version of “Moulding,” which is essentially a rehearsal with me playing through my practice amp and the both of us singing a new song and the whole thing recorded just for reference on my iPhone. For reference. Thank god I have it. Not just because I fucking miss her, but – and this is why it’s on the album and this is why it closes the album – she follows everything I do with the most incredible sensitivity. Her harmony is unusual and perfect – this is why I say Low and X, she’s like Exene or Mimi – and she goes from loud or quiet, light head voice to deep chest voice not just when she hears me go but in the exact instant that I do. It’s not a moment later, it’s right fucking on it. Like telepathy. She knows where I’m going before I do, even. And all of her stuff on the record is like that. And we did those parts in one four-hour session because we didn’t ever imagine that we wouldn’t be back to do more. And that’s also why there’s so much outtake spoken word stuff of hers – like "talkback" – on the record. If Summer was here, there wouldn’t be any need for it – and she’d never allow it, probably – but I just wanted people to get the most visceral sense they possibly could of what a delight it was to be in a room with her. And another thing, it wasn’t just me bringing her along. She turned me on to some amazing music that I frankly did not even fucking know about. Goldfrapp for one. And you can hear Allison in Summer’s vocals – “No Answer,” especially, which we wrote sitting on my futon in New York. I wish... I wish like hell she was here. Not only because she was the love of my life and my best friend and my partner but because she made this band amazing and I wanted to make records with her forever.”

I’ve always imagined the greatest gift to someone we’ve lost, to their memory, is to live a stronger life than we did before, so that they can be proud of us from the beyond. The memories of them here are all we are guaranteed. Hearing this story could give one more courage to carry on. That indeed may be the greatest legacy of this testament to love.

“Every last step of this – the final mixes, the final mastering, the final art (the double CD comes with a collage poster of photos and an incredibly arresting cover, Alex Alemany’s painting “Mediterraneo”) – it was really hard to let go of because it felt like something was ending, “ says Serafin-Wells. “But, playing these songs out – and we’re not trying to replicate Summer’s vocals, no one could – it’s still something going forward. It’s like a kind of prayer to her and we know, we can feel it – she’s around.”

- Ground Control Magazine (May 2013)

BPXmas - CD and/or mp3 album

Hailed as "eclectic, steadfast and powerful" (PopMatters) and "taut, urgent and altogether haunting" (Ground Control) NYC's Bipolar Explorer bring their emotive, moody indie-rock dreampop vibe to this new collection of Christmas songs. Featuring one original holiday composition and new arrangements of four traditional carols, recorded, according to the band, "live, noisily and in a hurry" at their studio in Hell's Kitchen.

 

"New York’s minimalist indie rockers Bipolar Explorer are poised to release two new EPs this month: Angels, the follow-up to their celebrated double-record Of Love and Loss (Slugg Records) as well as a Christmas EP entitled BPXmas (out now digitally and as a CD on December 17). Indeed, I have it on as I write this. I’m not entirely certain what I expected but it’s kind of brilliant. And voluntarily having selected “repeat all," I have to say it’s getting under my skin.

Christmas music. It’s a dodgy prospect. I’m not sure I can take another holiday season hearing Sir Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” as I stamp about Trader Joe’s looking for some decent French Roast. But I wouldn’t mind at all coming across BPX’s moody “Emmanuel”, haunting “In The Bleak Midwinter” or their downright raucous “The First Noel” (yeah, they went there…) in any grocery aisle. There’s even a kind of joy in their ghostly half-German, half-English cover of “Silent Night." It may be more Joy Division than Joy to the World, but that might actually be a good thing.

BPXmas (a mash-up play on words of the band’s acronym, BPX, and that of Christmas itself) is comprised of those four traditional carols - in new arrangements ranging from moody shoegaze to jangly dreampop with a sturdy bit of the ruins of CBGB’s undergirding the lot – plus one new original composition, “It’s Christmas, Sweetheart," penned by frontman, lead guitarist and singer, Michael Serafin-Wells.
Inevitably, The Ghosts of Christmases Past attend and inform the proceedings – like every Bipolar Explorer record, this one is dedicated to the memory of their fallen bandmate, Michael’s late-girlfriend and partner, Summer Serafin, who died in a tragic accident in 2011 at the age of 31. But somehow that very gravitas only adds to the shimmer of this collection of tracks – it anchors them, still finding the very holiday-appropriate voicing of gratitude for ever having found “a life of love, so better led”, as Serafin-Wells sings to her on “It’s Christmas, Sweetheart," the EP’s opening track...

- "Bipolar Explorer Work a Double-Shift Through the Holidays" - Ground Control Magazine, Dec 7, 2014

Go Negative - CD and/or mp3 album

"Guitar-driven, hyper-literate indie rock. Melodic with punky echoes." - CD Baby

 

"Go Negative" is the debut from (the pre-Summer version of) Bipolar Explorer - Michael Wells (guitars, bass, vocals) and Yves Gerard (drums, vocals). It was recorded by Gerard and Tommy Uzzo, who also did the mixes, and features 12 new tunes by Wells, the former guitarist, singer and chief songwriter for NYC-based pop-punksters, Uncle. Gerard, former Patti Rothberg and Better Days drummer, also produced.


Moving on to Solids - CD and/or mp3 album

"More fun and more drunk than my real uncle. And that's saying a lot..."

 

This is how Fleshtones drummer, Bill Milhizer, described NYC's pop-punkers, Uncle. Moving On To Solids is the 1998 follow-up to their '95 debut, "Thanks For All The Lemons", and the band's favorite. "We grew up," guitarist/singer Michael Serafin-Wells says. "Sorta."

Thanks For All the Lemons - CD and/or mp3 album

"You can't resist having these guys play your party - even though you just know the cops will come and shut it down. With their garage crunch and musical insanity - just listen to "Lemon Lip Gloss"! - and featuring punchy and playful songs like "Shut Up And Bite Me" (about a vampiric, presumably ex-, girlfriend), (the self-explanatory) "Flakey Girl" and a shambolic, Ramones-inspired cover of The Beatles' "I Don't Want To Spoil The Party", Uncle have a knack for recording their personalities as well as their music on tape. Garage as garage can be, Uncle forfeit polish for passion on "Thanks For All The Lemons", making it obvious they are a band that plays because they love to."

- ORB Confidential Spring 1996 cover feature and starred review.

Recorded, mixed and produced by Michael Sauvage at Brooklyn's Mission Sound, Thanks For All The Lemons is Uncle's 1995 Slugg Records debut, featuring 8 songs by guitarist/singer Michael Serafin-Wells, 3 by lead guitarist Chas Milton Braun, 2 by bassist Gregg Rochman and 1 by drummer Bruce de Torres.

"The drunk record", Serafin-Wells calls it, "with everything turned up to 11. I guess there's some good stuff on it". The 15 tracks (plus an uncredited bonus of Braun's "Too Lazy") are an accurate representation of their live sets of the time. Raw, quirky and, well, inebriated, it includes signature tunes "Flakey Girl", (the would-be single) "Lemon Lip Gloss" and the shambolic cover of "I Don't Want To Spoil The Party" they routinely closed their shows with. Although Serafin-Wells prefers Uncle's '98 follow-up, "Moving On To Solids", he admits this record remains something of a favourite to fans. "Both of them."