Skulking around in the darkness can have a lasting effect on a band. Set Fire To Flames' first album, Sings Reign Rebuilder
was contrived through a process of isolation and chemicals. With Telegraphs in Negative/Mouths Trapped in Static
, Set Fire to Flames repeats the same basic idea, only in a cathedral-like barn located in Ontario, Canada. Dark motifs are prevalent throughout, but are compromised, in some cases, by overzealous pretension. The tracks on this album start at the number sixteen, continuing from Sings Reign Rebuilder
, which had a total of fifteen tracks.
By setting up shop in a barn, SftF were immersed in an oasis of material for their musique concrete style. More evident through the use of headphones (thus giving a greater feeling of intimacy), sounds of rustling keys, slamming doors, shuffling feet and other (un)intentional sounds can be heard (propelling a new sub-genre that I have dubbed “avant-barn”). Although the process for both albums is essentially the same, Telegraphs in Negative...
is altogether less cohesive, with moments of brilliance more difficult to locate through the hazy static and dissonance of muffled strings and unintelligible percussion. Some tracks, such as Measure de Mesure
, are just noise with no accompanying instrumentation, which I find to be the greatest downfall is this record. Set Fire To Flames' aesthetic followed that of the universe's. It has stretched out, leaving more space between salient aural occasions. Unlike the universe, however, Telegraphs in Negative..
feels slower than its predecessor as it stretches out.
Two tracks in particular drag heavily on this album's movement: In Prelight Isolate
and Sleep Maps
. The former clocking in at 15 minutes and the latter at 12 minutes, these tracks consist of gradual builds in droning dissonance with convulsions of strings, bulging organic noises, and interspersed guitar throughout. Instead of beginning and ending, they rise out of nowhere and morph into nothing, and just kind of... are (or are not).
There are several positive aspects to this album though. The return of one of the lyingdyingwonderbodies
who talks about "strange things [that'll] happen." He appears on the tracks Holy Throat Hiss Tracts to the Sedative Hypnotic
, accompanied by clicks and clacks, but once he finishes, a section of horns builds from nowhere are morphs into a short ditty that I would expect out of a 50's war movie. When Sorrow Shoots Her Darts
and Your Guts Are Like Mine
are both short (around 3-4 minutes each), and actually have structure to them; both are quality songs.
Fukt Perkusiv/Something About Bad Drugs, Schizophrenics and Grain Silos...
is a gradual procession of muffled guitar and squeaky percussion that builds and recedes while wailing [humanoid] moans are heard in the background. One of my favorite experimental pieces on the album. It feels like you're in a straight jacket while being wheeled around the hallways of a mental institution. The sounds stops [you pass out], but then it just picks right up where it left off [you regain consciousness]. Probing the dark hallways of psychosis can be a frightening experience.
The most impressive part of this album is the final 4-track span. And the Birds are About to Bust Their Guts With Singing
, lulls the listener along with glockenspiel [maybe xylophone], and subtle swells of strings and horns and then drops into silences as the glockenspiels belt out their bird-song. Rites of Spring Reverb
is an achingly gorgeous work of layered, delayed and [yes] reverberated strings, and the album ends strong with This Thing Between Us Is a Rickety Bridge of Impossible Crossing/Bonfires for Nobody...
With an album like this, we just have to hope that Set Fire to Flames will regain some focus and ditch the superfluous and just plain ol' noise in the future. Telegraphs in Negative...
is work of something organic, something natural and real
. I guess the only unnatural thing would be hauling a ton of music equipment into the [avant] barn in the first place.
When Sorrow Shoots Her Darts
Your Guts Are Like Mine
Rites of Spring Reverb
This Thing Between Us Is a Rickety Bridge of Impossible Crossing/Bonfires for Nobody...
Kill Fatigue Frequencies