Review Summary: Set Fire to Flames captures a grainy image of the darker side of the world that most of us have forgotten. Through that use of found-sound and minimalist instrumentation, SFtF have produced an album that experimentalist or post rock geeks should check outxxx love song for 15 Ontario xxx
real estate speculators / urban planners / architects pregnant with bastard monstrosities---you should all be put on trial for what you’ve done to our cities---since 1878 this house has been a brothel / and a 10 cent shoe shine parlour / and a good home to many many people / animals / ghosts---your bulldozers and wrecking ball can make matchsticks out of the rickety staircase and crookt/creaking floorboards---but they won’t erase the recording that was made here---and we are waiting for your wrecking ball…
--Liner Notes in Sings Reign Rebuilder
Godspeed retold the apocalypse using their quiet/loud dynamic in their album F# A# (infinity)
, but Set Fire to Flames brings us closer to the chaos that resulted after said apocalypse in their debut release Sings Reign Rebuilder
. But if the whole ‘apocalypse allusion’ has been played out already, one can picture Sings Reign Rebuilder
as a voice for those people who have been forgotten by contemporary society. SFtF employs the use of various found-sound excerpts, monologues from the SFtF-dubbed lyingdyingwonderbodies
, whose speeches compliment the music as a juxtaposition of hope and desolation.
Now don’t get me wrong; Sings Reign Rebuilder
isn’t a collection of religious nuts ranting and creaking staircases (although they don’t exclude the creaking staircase). The music (a lot of it is actually very beautiful music) and the organic sound samples shouldn’t be viewed as a dichotomy that oppose each other. Set Fire to Flames show their mastery of melding together the samples and music into a dialectic: where instead of being considered opposites, the music and sound samples play off and permeate into one another.
Though considered minimalist in nature, Sings Reign Rebuilder
delivers a wide array of moods through its inherent musical diversity. Distorted violins/violas and twanged-out guitars are a couple of the biggest highlights throughout this album, and while those alone might sound trite and worn-out (especially in post rock), SFtF regresses from the Godspeed formula of build--recede, and instead explores the extents of its own aural boundaries. There is No Dance in Frequency and Balance
is one of the more interesting tracks, considering it has a strong electronic influence as opposed to the rest of the album’s strong organically-based music. The track moves along slowly with a loose drum beat, eerie white noise and a funky bass line until all the instruments hold for a second and the song breaks down into a distorted wave of beats and pressurized air.
Tracks like 'I Will Be True...' (From Lips Of Lying Lying Wonder Body #1) / Reign Rebuilder [Head]
and Wild Dogs Of The Thunderbolt / 'they Can Not Lock Me Up... I Am Eternally Free...' (From Lips Of Lying Lying Wonder Body #2)
don’t just portray a deep sense of pretentiousness but highlight the violin and twangy guitar duo accompanied by the stories of the lyingdyingwonderbodies
. Shit-Heap-Gloria Of The New Town Planning
is another highlight on Sings Reign Rebuilder
as the one track to (loosely) follow the Godspeed formula as it builds with a dense fog of low-cut noise, guitars and strings. The song, however, never reaches that apex that a typical post rock song would experience, and where it seems like it might reach that point, Set Fire to Flames tease our ears with restraint and pull back into silence.
The two biggest highlights on Sings Reign Rebuilder
include Steal Compass / Drive North / Disappear
and Love Song For 15 Ontario (W/ Singing Police Car)
. Similar to Shit-Heap..
, Steal Compass..
builds from a simple guitar line and when it seems like the song will give the payoff, the song breaks down with an exiting drum beat and a soaring electronic wall of sound. Love Song For 15 Ontario (W/ Singing Police Car)
is beautiful in itself but also in the case of the accident: the real. The song moves along beautifully with guitar, strings, noise and percussion and just as the song is about to end and the instruments cease for a second to play the final bar, a police siren enters the space of the music and leaves, creating a feeling of urgency or even longing of something fleeting.
Set Fire to Flames has done just that: created an album dedicated to those fleeting peripheral feelings of hope and despair we feel as intelligent human beings. It teaches us to read between the lines, to look between the notes and find ourselves where we never thought we would: alone and trapped inside our lyingdyingwonderbodies
. But where there is despair, there’s hope to be offered, which is evident through a lot of Sings Reign Rebuilder
If you’ve already explored most of what post rock has to offer, check out Set Fire to Flames. The biggest problem with this band is that they are very ‘hit-or-miss’ in the sense that some people will appreciate what they’ve created and others will dismiss it completely as another pretentious, experimental, masturbatory art-album. I gladly fall into the former model.