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Set Fire To Flames

Set Fire To Flames

The sole reason behind the initial setting up of FatCat’s 130701 imprint, Set Fire To Flames was a collective of thirteen musicians engaged in the independent, hyper-creative musical community of Montreal (including members of Exhaust, Fly Pan Am, Godspeed You Black Emperor!, Hanged Up, HRSTA, Squintfucker Press, and Undo).

Exploring the boundaries of freedom, the project emerged from the initial desire of the artists to fully immerse and engage themselves in the process of group improvisation without getting so heavily caught up in what the end results would sound like: ‘none of us thought that the final results would end up on a record, [we wanted] to conduct the whole five-day recording session like a series of experiments—to get lost in the sound as it was actually happening—to make the whole recording an exploded intense event—to push tolerance levels and limitations with a group of people sonically…’

Their first album, ‘Sings Reign Rebuilder’, released in October of 2001, resonates intensely with political expression and collective questioning, where the personal is deeply, inextricably political. Voices from the edge bear testament to the disguised agendas that govern our lives, to the brutality and restrictions rained down on any attempt to live freely. Shot through with a palpable sense of love, loss, and (semi-thwarted) adventure, with tension, discomfort, and world-weariness, the album grips the heart and drags the listener to spaces beyond language, beyond which mere words are rendered clumsy, and cumbersome, utterly inadequate.

Following this up, ‘Telegraphs In Negative / Mouths Trapped In Static’ was released in April 2003. Like the debut, this album was again founded in a situation of self-imposed isolation, with the band operating both individually and communally in states of little or no sleep, in varying levels of intoxication, and in physical confinement. Having located a huge, cathedral-like barn at an old, abandoned farm in rural Ontario, the band rented and hauled a mammoth twenty-four track machine and a cube truck full of gear out to this desolate site and set up to record.

Whilst the product of an equally intense and gruellingly-focused recording process, the results of ‘telegraphs…’ are undeniably sparser and more tempered than before, with deeper studio sorcery at work, and more tape manipulation/composition. Drifting between a beautifully radiant, elevated drone-shimmer and a totally tactile, dirt-grained grounding in location, the album was perhaps even scarier / more abrasive than its predecessor.

‘Telegraphs…’ was to be the last release in the collective’s brief lifespan, during which time they played just a couple of live shows in Canada. A previously unreleased track, ‘Barn Levitate’ appeared on our 15th-anniversary compilation.


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