I guess we often say releases capture the imagination but in the case of Square Peg In A Square Hole from firewheelbombfire it captures, inspires, ignites, and frames a myriad of thoughts, ideas, and imagery bred by its compelling body. An album which offers up a new experience with every listen, it can play as a continuous journey through a post-apocalyptic like world or as individual tales through equally traumatic landscapes whether physically or mentally. It is a thoroughly intriguing piece of work which thrills and incites across its expressive narrative and stirring imagination. It is not a flawless release and admittedly at rare times things fail to ignite the strongest connection but it is a release which tells and triggers a wealth of stories and feelings, and ultimately is a triumph.
Firewheelbombfire is the solo project of Cardiff-based producer Matt Strangis, a man already renowned for his production work in the realm of drum and bass under the name Billy Gone Bad. His new guise and sound sees Strangis bringing numerous rock and metal essences and flavours into a riveting merger with uncomfortable and impacting ambiences. Also within the canvas the album offers are a plethora of as the bio say ‘other noise-enabling bits and pieces found around the home (kitchen utensils / plates / cats).’ It all makes for an organic and startling experience, an encounter which would not be out of place as a voice to the blackest noir drenched or starkest futuristic or social cinematic endeavours. Completely DIY on a non –existent budget, being home-recorded in the exact chronological order of the track-listing, and conceived from a pro-album / anti-single perspective, the album is an incendiary pleasure for the sense and imagination.
The album opens with Doggone, the track emerging from a distant shadow with the air and energy of a tube train with intensity brewing to an impending climax but then instantly dropping off into a melodic guitar crafted caress. With vocal nudges making a claim alongside the bass, their whispers as if spawn through a vacuum hose, the track shimmers and resonates like an ever revolving wheel of textures and dimensions, a clarity eluding the grasp until a time of its choosing when the guitar entwines the ear with a deliciously grooved irritant to its touch and mesmeric call. It is a restrained but dramatic start, the impressive first of a flow of tracks provoking the mind and its invention.
The following Get Out Much? is a shadowed fuelled temptation, the low slung restrained vocal tones and the equally throaty bass enticement veined by vibrant rhythms for a hypnotic conspiracy. The breath of the track is dark and knowing; its deceptive secrets left to be discovered though once it eventually opens up its doors for a surge of stoner lined guitar grooves and energised fiery vocals, the heart is there to be explored. Infectious from numerous angles and premises, the song takes the great start to another level with ease and anthemic almost primal seduction.
The melancholic feel of Francis opens up yet another avenue of emotion and thought, its desolate and gloomy air like a reflection of a long past loss or regret. Its touch is that of a colourless memory, a black and white photograph of remembrance, and deeply emotive. Though the piece does not come close to the passion igniting heights of its predecessors its hold and ability to spark images and personal thoughts is stunning.
The next tracks again offer new adventures within the landscape being investigated, the contagious rock dance of Carry on Carrie a melodic siren especially with the speeding through a tunnel like hypnotism across its building climax, whilst both Telephone Voice (On / Off) and Trodite with their undefined but in many ways sinisterly presences are like aural magic eye artwork, though each twist and needed warped look into their colourful and bleeding depths, a scenario emerges with a new guise to explore each and every time.
The hungry intimidating corridors and hidden dangers of Pissing Guilt is a like a perpetual nightmare, its persistently looming dark embrace and inescapable menacing ambience full of seemingly vocal reassurance yet prowled by a sonic and rhythmic provocation to steer only uncertainly around the light within. Imagine yourself lost in a maze of perpetual clutching shadows, the walls of blackened streets either in reality or the mind stalking and herding emotions into a corner for an everlasting provocation and the song makes for the perfect soundtrack.
Polypoly and September lead the listener back to safer ground though both again have their shadows to peer over proceedings. The infectious smouldering entrancement of the second of the pair is an irresistible lead into the closing It Ran And Ran And Ran, and its rapacious enterprise. The heaviest predator of the album, the song is a confrontation of stoner and industrial spiced doom metal like stalking, the bass and rhythms slowly watching and encroaching closer on their prey as the intensity and pace of the track builds to leap with a pack like mentality across all its elements upon the senses. It is an excellent finish to an equally impressive album.
It is hard to really compare the album and its sound to another though I am sure many will maybe rightly use Trent Reznor as a reference, but another name does rear its head in that of Colin Newman (Wire), not so much in sound maybe but presence and atmosphere. Square Peg In A Square Hole is a great album for all who like to listen, think, and imagine with their music and firewheelbombfire a project destined to impress again and again.
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