-
neumu
Monday, December 22, 2014 
-
-
--archival-captured-cinematronic-continuity error-daily report-datastream-depth of field--
-
--drama-44.1 khz-gramophone-inquisitive-needle drops-picture book-twinklepop--
-
Neumu = Art + Music + Words
Search Neumu:  

illustration



edited by michael goldbergcontact


The Fiery Furnaces' Psychedelic Theater

On first listen, the Fiery Furnaces' Blueberry Boat is a mad mishmash of styles, stories, voices and images, careening wildly from epic tales of pirates and boats to quasi-lifelike sagas of annoying co-workers.  "Quay Cur," the 10-minute-plus opening track is, in itself, a rock-flavored Gilbert & Sullivan tale, built on recurring riffs in guitar, every kind of keyboard and voice, and emboldened by dramatic, if slightly nonsensical, monologues.

The theatrical air of Blueberry Boat is intentional, reinforced by a vaudeville-style piano and a sprinkling of vocal dialogues between brother Matt and sister Eleanor Friedberger. "The album was meant to sound like a school play with an old lady playing accompaniment," Matt Friedberger said during a recent interview. “As opposed to a clean, electric rhythm guitar.  Or a distorted electric guitar.  It's not supposed to take place in a rock club or someone's car while they're listening to Cheap Trick, though I love Cheap Trick, but it's supposed to sound like it takes place in a school or someone's home."

The Fiery Furnaces are, of course, the brother and sister duo who rocketed onto the music scene last fall with the release of Gallowsbird's Bark, a dizzying pastiche of psychedelia, sketched-out blues and semi-serious sea chanties.  At once charming and confounding, the stuffed-to-the-gills package was held together by Eleanor Friedberger's deadpan voice and her brother Matt's sly experimental commentary on it — a tinkle of pianos here, the roar of wah-wah there. There was a headlong rush to Gallowsbird's Bark, an almost out-of-control creativity that has, if anything, been intensified on the follow-up.

Friedberger says that The Who were a huge influence on him as he worked on Blueberry Boat, particularly the mini-opera phase of their career exemplified by "A Quick One While He's Away." He is fascinated by Kit Lambert, the band's mid-1960s manager, who pushed them toward a longer, campier style that he called "sustained ridiculousness."  "Lambert was a very interesting character," Friedberger said, "because he took the pop riffs seriously, but he also liked some camp stuff... the sort of blank-faced ridiculousness that pop music always was."  With "A Quick One" and "Rael 1" and "2" on heavy play last winter, Friedberger decided to take a stab at the long, playfully interconnected songs of Blueberry Boat.

"There are some musical connections between 'Quay Cur' and 'Blueberry Boat,'" he noted, "There's a tune that comes in at the end of the first part of Eleanor's singing that comes back in the end, and the other parts are based on it or related to it in some very crude but pseudo-musical way.  It reappears in 'Blueberry Boat,'" he said.  

Still, Friedberger cautioned that no one should confuse Blueberry Boat with a concept album. "It's long and annoying like a concept record, but it's not a concept record," he said, adding that, at some point, he hopes to record a full-length concept album.  He has an idea for one, in fact, but like Blueberry Boat, it has a nautical theme, and he doesn't want to get pigeonholed.

That hardly seems likely, given the sheer number of ideas and images embedded in Blueberry Boat, including, in several instances, the musical equivalent of jokes.  "None of the playing on the record is meant to be good because it's good playing," said Friedberger.  "It's meant either to be amusing or to fit the words.  The piano, it's very... it's very playful."  

For instance, at the end of "Blueberry Boat" as the pirates board the ship, there's a series of drunken, woozy piano chords.  "I thought it would be funny if, right then, there was this sort of shamelessly bad piano soloing as a kind of comment on what's going to happen," Friedberger explained. "Obviously it's all going to go wrong.  The ship is going to be taken over and people are going to get hurt, and I thought it was funny to put in this woozy drum set and parlor piano as a little comment on the action so far."

While Gallowsbird's Bark was anchored in real experience — Eleanor's travels through Europe — Blueberry Boat is more fanciful.  "Chris Michaels," one of the album's standout tracks, starts in the relatively mundane setting of a present-day office building, where the title character is roundly despised by co-workers.  Yet, when Chris Michaels' boyfriend breaks up with her, she flies off to India and somehow lands in the 19th century. "All the nonsense words in that song are taken from Hobbs Jobson, which is the old 19th century dictionary of Anglo-English," says Friedberger.  "It doesn't make any sense, because Chris Michaels leaves O'Hare and flys to India, and travels back in time, there's no real reason for that.  But hopefully it's detailed enough with the silly slang words used totally unidiomatically that it has some concreteness to it, even though it's obviously ridiculous."

Matt Friedberger said that he hopes listeners will not be put off by the album's long cuts, its bizarre story lines, its unusually busy arrangements or anything else that they might, at first, find troubling.  "I hope that people skip through the record, so that they don't hold the bits and pieces that seem ponderous and annoying to them at first — or maybe they will always seem that way — against parts that they might like," he said.  "There are plenty of records that I love that I hate parts of."

He added that he himself often likes albums like Blueberry Boat best the first crazy time he hears them. "Sometimes the first impression that you get is 'Well, that doesn't make any sense at all.'  It sounds crazy.  And often that's the most fun you have listening to it.  Then later, when you do figure it out, you like it, and then you think after a while that 'it's not as wild as I thought it was, it's not as interesting as I thought.'"

The Fiery Furnaces will be touring Australia with Franz Ferdinand this summer, then the U.S. in September and October. (See www.thefieryfurnaces.com for complete dates).  Friedberger said that the band will probably record its next album — a collaboration with his and Eleanor's 81-year-old grandmother — in November.  — Jennifer Kelly [Thursday, August 13, 2004]


Alejandro Escovedo's Joyous Rebirth

John Vanderslice Kicks Genre

Paul Duncan's Elusive Pop

Stephen Yerkey's Wandering Songs

French Kicks Complete 'Two Thousand'

Spazzy Romanticism: Love Story In Blood Red

Brain Surgeons NYC Rock The Big Questions

Jarboe's 'Men' Charts Turbulent Emotions

Delta 5's Edgy Post-Punk Resurrected

Blitzen Trapper Spiff Things Up

Minus Five: Booze, Betrayal, Bibles and Guns

New Compilation Spotlights Forgotten Folk Guitar Heroes

Chris Brokaw's Experiment In Pop

Old And New With Death Vessel

Silver Jews: Salvation And Redemption

Jana Hunter's Beautiful Doom

Vashti Bunyan Finds Her Voice Again

Nick Castro's Turkish Folk Delight

Katrina Hits New Orleans Musicians Hard

Paula Frazer's Eerie Beauty

The National Find Emotional Balance

Death Cab For Cutie's New Album, Tour

Heavy Trash's Rockabilly Rampage

Help The Wrens Get Their Albums Released!

Devendra Banhart, Andy Cabic Launch Label

Lydia Lunch's Noir Seductions

Bosque Brown's The Real Deal

PDX Pop Now! Fest Announces Lineup

Sarah Dougher Starts Women-Focused Label

Jennifer Gentle's Joyful Psyche

Mountain Goat Darnielle Gets Autobiographical With 'Sunset Tree'

Mia Doi Todd's Beautiful Collaboration

Return of the Gang of Four

Martha Wainwright Finds Her Voice

Brian Jonestown Massacre's Acid Joyride

Solo Disc Due From Pixies' Frank Black

Heartless Bastards' Big-Hearted Rock

Mike Watt's Midlife Journey

The Black Swans Balance Old And New

Nicolai Dunger's Swedish Blues

The Insomniacs' Hard-Edged Pop

Yo La Tengo Collection Due

Juana Molina's 'Homemade' Sound

Beans Evolves

Earlimart's Songs Of Loss

Devendra Banhart's 'Mosquito Drawings'

Negativland Rerelease 'Helter Stupid'

Alina Simone Transforms The Ordinary

Sounds From Nature: Laura Veirs

Octet's Fractured Electric Pop

Sleater-Kinney Working With Lips Producer

The Cult Of Silkworm

The Evolution Of The Concretes

Devendra Banhart's Exuberant New Songs

Catching Up With The Incredible String Band

Gram Rabbit's Desert Visions

Three Indie-Rock Stars Unite As Maritime

Remembering Johnny Ramone

Jarboe's Many Voices

Phil Elvrum's Long Hard Winter

First U.S. Release For Vashti Bunyan Album

Incredible String Band To Tour U.S.

New Music From Lydia Lunch

Le Tigre Protest The Bush War Presidency

Joel RL Phelps: Bleak Songs Rock Hard

Time Tripping With Galaxie 500

Patti Smith Wants Bush Out!

Sharron Kraus: A New Kind Of Folk Music

The Fiery Furnaces' Psychedelic Theater

Harder, Heavier Burning Brides

Sonic Youth's Ongoing Experiment

The Dt's Do It Their Way

Poster Children Cover Political Rock

Rare Thelonious Monk Recordings Due

Uneasy Pop From dios

Beck, Lips, Waits Cover Daniel Johnston

Understanding Franz Ferdinand

The Truly Amazing Joanna Newsom

Mylab's Boundary-Crossing Experiments In Sound

Have You Heard Jolie Holland Whistle?

The 'Magical Realism' Of Vetiver

The Restless, Rootsy Songs Of Eszter Balint

The Sun Sets On The Blasters

Devendra Banhart To Tour U.S.

The East/West Fusion Sounds Of Macha

Destroyer Gets Mellow For Your Blues

TV On The Radio Get Political

Sonic Youth, Modest Mouse To Play Lollapalooza 2004

New Music From The Fall

Apocalyptic Sound From The Intelligence

Fast And Rude With The Casual Dots

'Rejoicing' With Devendra Banhart

New Album, Tour From The Polyphonic Spree

Shearwater Take Wing

Sleater-Kinney To Tour East/West Coasts

Resurrecting Rocket From The Tombs

Visqueen Want To Get A Riot Goin' On

Lloyd Cole Makes A Commotion

Funkstörung's 'Cut-Up' Theory

Waiting For Mirah's C'mon Miracle

Electrelane Find Their Voice

The Television Is Still On!

Experimental Sounds From Hannah Marcus

The Ponys Play With Rayguns

Ex-Mono Men Leader Returns With The Dt's

Mountain Goats' Darnielle Adopts A More Hi-Fi Sound

Sun Kil Moon To Tour U.S., Europe

Nothin' But The Truth From The Von Bondies

Sultans Survive 'Shipwreck'

Sebadoh Reunite For Spring Tour

Xiu Xiu's 'Reality' Rock

Meet The Patients

Beth Orton, M. Ward Make Sadness Taste Sweet

Oneida's Pathway To Ecstasy

Radiohead, Pixies, Dizzee Rascal To Play Coachella

Young People Tour Behind War Prayers

Pixies Tour Dates Announced

Ani DiFranco Tells It Like It Is

Deerhoof Back For 2004 With Milkman

McLusky Set To 'Bring On The Big Guitars' Again

Pixies Reunite For U.S., European Tours

American Music Club, Decemberists To Play NoisePop 2004

Damien Rice Set To Tour U.S.

The Frames Accept Your Love

Punk Rock's A-Frames To Re-Record Third Album

Finally! Mission Of Burma Record New Album

A Solo Detour For Ladybug Transistor's Sasha Bell

Return Of The Old 97's

Spending The Night With Damien Rice

Tindersticks Reissues Due This Spring

The Evolution Of 'A Silver Mt. Zion'

Neil Young Rocks Australia With 'Greendale'

Poster Children Back In Action

'The Great Cat Power Disaster Of 2003'

Chicks On Speed's Subversive Strategies

Oranger At A Crossroad

Peaches On Tour And In Control

Jawbreaker's Complete Dear You Sessions To Be Released

Belle & Sebastian + Trevor Horn = Sunny Pop Nirvana

Von Bondies' Pawn Shoppe Heart

Descendents Are Back!

Modest Mouse Touring; Album Due in 2004

London Suede Take A (Permanent?) Break

Saul Williams Wants You To Think For Yourself

The 'Zen' Sound Of Calexico

Elliott Smith Dead AT 34

Debut Due From Mark Kozelek's Sun Kil Moon

The Hunches: Music That'll 'Fucking Live Forever'

Vic Chesnutt Speaks His Mind

90 Day Men Cancel Tour

Keith Jarrett, Cecil Taylor Highlight SF Jazz Festival

For My Morning Jacket, It's The Music That Matters

EP Due From The Polyphonic Spree

Bright Eyes, Neva Dinova Collaborate On EP

The Rise & Fall & Rise Of Ben Lee

Catching Up With Cheerfully Defiant Tricky

Hanging Around With The Polyphonic Spree

Sophomore Album Due From The Shins

Noise Rock From Iceland's Singapore Sling

Death Cab To Tour U.S.

Rufus Wainwright's Want One Is 'Family Affair'

Death Cab's Transatlanticism On The Way

Heartfelt Rock From Sweden's Last Days Of April

The Minus 5 Get Down With Wilco

Tywanna Jo Baskette's Southern-Gothic Rock

Xiu Xiu's Stewart Takes On 'Gay-bashing'

Portishead Producer Resurfaces Behind New Diva

Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Wire, Primal Scream On Buddyhead Comp

Yeah Yeah Yeahs To Tour West Coast

Sonic Youth, Erase Errata Kick Off 'Buddy Series'

The Locust Are One Scary Band

Damien Rice In The 'Here And Now'

Remembering Karp's Scott Jernigan

ATP-NY Postponed 'Til At Least 2004

The Soul Of Chris Lee

Gits' Frenching The Bully To See Re-Release

Stephen Malkmus Is In Control

Superchunk To Release Rarities Set; Teenage Girls To Swoon As A Result

Summer Touring For The Gossip

Babbling On About Deerhoof

Irish Song Poet Damien Rice's O Released In U.S.

Chatting With ATP's Barry Hogan

Former Digable Planets Frontman Surfaces With Cherrywine

ATP L.A. Festival Rescheduled For Fall

Freakwater's Janet Bean Takes A Solo Turn

Lee's 'Cool Rock'

Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs Highlight YES NEW YORK

Mark Romanek's 'Hurt' Revives Johnny Cash's Career

The Rapture's Post-Punk, Post-Dance Sound

R.E.M., Wilco, Modest Mouse Highlight Bumbershoot Fest

Set Fires To Flames' Sleep-Deprivation Sound

Southern Gothic Past Shadows Verbena's La Musica Negra

The Subtle Evolution Of Yo La Tengo

Spring Tour For Jolie Holland (Plus A Live Album)

Liz Phair Still Pushing The Limits

Gold Chains Wants You To Dance And Think

Young People's War Prayers On The Way



peruse archival
 



-
-snippetcontactsnippetcontributorssnippetvisionsnippethelpsnippetcopyrightsnippetlegalsnippetterms of usesnippetThis site is Copyright © 2003 Insider One LLC
-