6 Feb 2016

Fire on Fire: "The Orchard"

Melancholic festivities honouring musical diversity
With an ensemble such as Fire On Fire discerning their origins - musically as well as nationally - can be a tough task indeed. Their whimsical instrumentation and strange vocal melodies calls forth a wide array of European folk tendencies, but at the same time it carries the same moonshine flavour that the Scottish/Irish-derived folktunes of the Appalachia mountains do. It is however the northeastern state of Maine that this dynamic quintet calls home, from where they arose from the groups Big Blood and Cerberus Shoal.

"...Fire On Fire fits the bill perfectly, but only in the sense that the avant-garde portion allows for a certain amount of free thinking and imagination."

"The Orchard" is an album that could popularly be defined as freak folk, a sort of bastardisation of baroque folk traditions and psychedelic rock vibes with avant-garde tendencies. As such Fire On Fire fits the bill perfectly, but only in the sense that the avant-garde portion allows for a certain amount of free thinking and imagination. The album is in essence an amalgam of various traditional folk music consistent with the banjo, mandolin and harmonica heritage of Appalachia, which is permeated with an urge to seek out simpler, more authentic times. The engaging vibes and sublime dynamic between the individual vocalists is among the record's highlights, where the songs "Heavy D", "Assinine Race" and "Sirocco" beautifully set a high standard right from the get go. The superb interplay between the musicians likewise offers plentiful occasion for delight over how joyous music this sincere can be.

As a whole "The Orchard" is a fantastic trip to campfire shenanigans fueled by moonshine. The group's tracks stand well on their own, but equally well in the good company of the record as a whole. It does however feel as though Fire On Fire sort of blew their load during the first half of the album, and thus the latter half is just kind of "there", where there is substantially further between the bright moments that imbued the earlier parts of "The Orchard". This only stands to confirm that few bands really have it in them to release an album with a playtime in excess of an hour, and it leaves me wishing Fire On Fire would've just cut perhaps a track or two from the final product.

Fire On Fire aren't very public. Besides "The Orchard" they've only ever recorded an EP back in 2007 under this moniker, and since the release of this album they haven't been heard from much in the sense of new music or concerts. Both the band's records were released by Young God Records, who some may recognise as the label belonging to Michael Gira of Swans fame. The man must have excellent taste. However modest their legacy may be it burns brighter much more so than their genre-brethren in more well-known acts like O'Death or The Builders and the Butchers. "The Orchard" deserves a much broader following, and stands as a well-preserved gem fully to the standard of any other band within the genre.


Released in 2008 by Young God Records

Young God Records OFFICIAL SITE

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