A special edition celebrating our century of great reviews for bloody amazing bands.
The Firefly Garden – Merry Ellen Kirk (independent releases)
We dive into the drama, edged on by sighing bells; we are soon drifting along the most somnolent of melodies, these tunes taking on the character of dreams, unhurried thoughts, and their intent flexible, serene and devious even.
The piano waltzes like a kid in her first ballet costume while the bass slides from a Cheshire Cat purr to a subtle growl as the
listener is tempted to let go, let the light flow in, this is music that gently demands you set time aside for it, an escape if you allow it.
This is a hope filled set, the believing that there is always some way out of the darkness, (and yes she does embrace the darkness here) that a touch, a word, a rescue is available to the lost, an antidote to fears.
Stand out track for me is the slow build of ‘Victory’ a finely tuned mix of observation and the personal.
And so we move onto /into the Firefly Garden, still in its pre-release stages, Kirk takes the ethereal to the next level, the song ‘Candy’ being an especially delightful piece of modern dream Pop, immensely catchy without sacrificing wild charm. This set opens up the spaces, becomes so much wider than the bedroom intimate, yet..still..manages to speak to you, as in a private conversation.
The thing is, these are songs that can be played solo illuminating the dark night of the restless soul, or (soon I hope) can be
played to millions televised from the stage at some huge cool festival, where the chaos of the crowd cannot dilute the affection of the creations.
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Depend On This – Ruth Minnikin and her Bandwagon (SongMillMusic)
Artists love to shape shift their songs, from acoustic demo, the bare bone new born, to the band arrangement, to the live rendition, songs are made for pulling and prodding into exciting new forms, (tis why remixes so often work so well, if the manipulator shares a soul space with the composer) and here Minnikin takes six of her tunes and delights in showing just how a change of pace, focus and density can bring about new wonders.
Thus the Theme Song morphs from breezy Mamas and Papas pop brilliance into a wistful progressive folk interplay between wordless harmonies overlaying a carelessly disturbing instrumental.
And Sleeping and Dreaming slips from being a more orchestrated Au Revoir Simone ballad of quirky dimension into a skewed dancefloor shuffle all reflected mirror ball distorted.
Mention must be made of the re-arrangements of the six by Chuck Blazevic, who has taken care to instil the essence of the original into not just a negative image or enhanced backing track, but into cheeky(sly) brothers and sisters with distinct individualistic personalities.
This is one of those albums that make you fall in love all over again with the Possibilities of music.
Listen and discover for yourself
Both artists can be heard on the NBT podcast going out on
the 11th November 2010