Fire on Fire | Reviewdistinctly uneasy edge and fractured sense of reality bordering on dark psychedelia This Portland, Maine based group are members of art-punk-prog-chaos
collective Cerberus Shoal along with North East Indie labelmate Micah Blue
Smaldone reinvented as a kind of mutant 'bluegrass/folky' quintet using
traditional instruments (plus a few unusual ones) such as upright bass,
banjo, piano, harmonium, and accordion in addition to harmonized vocals.
This is anything but traditional bluegrass or folk, however, as there's a
distinctly uneasy edge and fractured sense of reality bordering on dark
psychedelia that removes it a million miles from the mainstream forms of
those genres, while also acknowledging the debt owed to those uniquely
American styles of music.
This is a Web site/live gig only release and comes in beautiful handmade
packaging: an original piece of artwork by band member Colleen Kinsella and
printed on good quality card stock while the lyrics and credits are printed
on vellum. According to the Young God Web site Michael Gira—who also shared
production credits with FoF's Caleb Mulkerin—has "an adamant belief in the
music" and, to be blunt, I couldn't agree with him more.
This is startlingly haunting, atmospheric, shimmering, and scintillating
music, channeling directly into the true heart of life and America, in much
the same way as Britain's dark folk current does, scratching beneath the
surface glitz and glamor to the hidden and unvarnished every day. Mulkerin's
tremulous voice, reminding me of Neil Young without the nasally whine, is a
perfect foil for the themes of liberty betrayed, life, death, the curse of
old age, and amnesia. Running through each of the five songs is a frisson of
edgy tension between the deliciously dark and poetic lyrics—often sung in
male/female harmonization—that contrast sharply with the musical backdrop of
picked banjos, guitar, piano, and simple percussion. I had shivers running
up and down my spine, such was the effect of these offbeat tales of modern
Love, loss, friendship, pain, and just the plain old job of getting on with
living: it's all there in buckets and delivered with an uncomplicated
passion and, moreover, a simplicity that's refreshing. This is, quite
simply, a breathtakingly beautiful set of songs.