The Austin Chronicle

Phases and Stages

Texas platters

Reviewed by Michael Chamy, August 6, 2004, Music

Fires Were Shot

Solace (Asphodel)

Without Thirty Three Degrees and its listening station, how does Fires Were Shot get to be the next Explosions in the Sky? After years of sculpting psychedelic bedroom symphonies to little or no audience, Clay Walton and ex-Winslow drummer John Wilkins finally get their push just as Austin's avant record store closes. San Francisco's adventurous Asphodel label (DJ Spooky, John Cage) finally picked up on what locals have been missing, releasing Solace, Fires Were Shot's follow-up to the fine 1998 CD-R Form the Hearth. Where Explosions in the Sky is sunset sounds, Fires Were Shot makes music for the sunrise, beatless ambient guitar pieces with EITS's knack for drama and atmosphere. FWS runs acoustic guitars through an arsenal of effects to create the sort of otherworldly timbres favored by Flying Saucer Attack, New Zealander Roy Montgomery, and the odd Michigan space rocker. Solace is dominated by two-to-four-minute soulscapes, each a different-hued brushstroke of contemplative impressionism. Cuts like "Eierie" and "Hollow" feature expertly subdued cosmic wails and rumbles melting into a calm stasis as simple, acoustic picking burrows its way into the listener's consciousness. Three-minute masterpiece "Hiroshima" is New Ageian in its harmonic restraint and beauty but grandiose and alien enough to surf a wave of vaporized flesh, too. "Subslumber" lays on the tension with a metronomic, delayed pseudo-rhythm, as does the 20-minute "Ocean M31," which would make Terry Riley proud.


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