Tuesday 16 April 2013

firewheelbombfire - Square Peg In A Square Hole

Album review by jay@thesoundofconfusion.co.uk

Albums like this one are a rarer thing in this age of playlists and the dreaded "shuffle". 'Square Peg In A Square Hole' is an album that should be taken as a whole, a journey. A soundtrack to a post-apocalyptic adventure where a desolate landscape is painted, populated by sun-scorched loners who have looked too long into the relentless sun. Closest perhaps to that of '28 Days Later' or 'Natural Born Killers'. It steps into view with 'Doggone', all enticing underplayed beats and flushes of organic sounds which seamlessly build to a Mogwai-esque torrent of crushing guitars, then deftly the pace is taken back down as 'Doggone' bleeds into 'Get Out Much' and the first glimpse of vocals.

These are compressed and angular and the whole track has a stark feel with strong imprints of Trent Reznor either with NIN at their bleakest or Reznor's recent own soundtrack works. 'Francis' brings in echoing, haunting piano, as if heard for the first time by a lone survivor playing a battered old gramophone. The track enriches this feel with a cracked, almost whispered vocal, as you picture the loner staring in wonder at this sound. As 'Francis' leaves you briefly with a drop of melancholy, this revere is wonderfully broken with the joyous discordant guitar lines of 'Carry On Carrie', spinning you in a kaleidoscope of warmth, then just as you think you are being over-indulged in melody things get taken back to a starker, heavier place with a metallic break in the colour, as if the loner has been spied in rapture and has to flee from darker things.

'Telephone Voice (on/off)' is almost a futuristic waltz with contrasting "telephonic" vocals and a rich, warm counterpoint voice that recalls Guy Garvey from Elbow, if he was raised in some bleak Siberian landscape rather than a wet Manchester. Following track 'Trodite' brings some welcomed organic sounds, a crisp, melodic acoustic line underpinned with a looping beat that adds hues of humanity in the stark landscape that has been set out. The closing electric sounds of guitar and echoing, hammering backdrops, bring you seductively back to the harsh, sun-bleached reality. Noise, discordant, twisted noise, is overused in many cases and can swamp and not enhance the listen. firewheelbombfire only once falls into this trap, where he has shown great restraint in applying his broad palette, 'Pissing Guilt' steps slightly into these cluttered swamps of sound. It's a murky, sludgy listen.

'Polypoly' is reared even starker by the sludge of 'Pissing Guilt' and maybe this was as meant, but this also falters slightly and is almost too simple and is quickly forgotten with the beatific rush of the next track 'September'. Its deadpan vocal recalling Eels, over a an near nursery-rhyme-simplistic structure of beats and chimes with added touches of Damon Albarn at his most adventurous. A colourful album highlight. Closer 'It Ran And Ran And Ran' brings out 'Square Peg in a Square Hole''s most industrial leanings. Building from Aphex-esque sound twitches to hammering, metal guitar and slamming steel on steel drums. It then breaks its stride with a sudden downbeat groove that canters briefly before building with almost unbearable tension, making you yearn for it to break out, expecting it to hit into a pounding harrowing breakbeat, instead it wades into a Sabbath-like doomy groove, climaxing an adventurous and rewarding album in a squall of feedback.

firewheelbombfire's website

'Square Peg In A Square Hole' will be available from May 1st on Bandcamp

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