One thing you should be fully aware of before listening to this and anything from Washington natives Blood Of The Black Owl is that it will take you on a spiritual journey; Light The Fires is no exception. The second play is pressed it is like the peyote has suddenly kicked in and you are off on a spirit walk. The opening track is in a word fantastic. ‘Caller Of Spirits’ does just as described with 13 minutes worth of throat singing chants and a musical canvas of shaking beads and maudlin ‘ancestor calling’ flutes. This is the spirit of the earth and it is aflame and full of passion. It is all steeped in mystery, as much as the band themselves, who do not exactly give much information about themselves but let the music do the talking. It is a humbling and shamanic experience and a stark one far removed from anything but nature itself. Chet W Scott the one name we are given behind this has really crafted a sound that is historic and transcendental.
The mood which has built to a stifling feel by track end lightens as the acoustic flow of ‘Wind Eye’ takes over. The lone guitar reminds a lot of The Doors classic The End but this is actually the shortest and least epic track on the 73 minute album. It’s slow and repetitive and totally gloomy too, what is needed is ‘Rise And Shine’ which just so happens to be the title of the next 13 minute epic but again it is slow to start just like someone coming out of a deep slumber. Gradually sparkling tones and chimes break on through and one gets the impression the sun is finally shining, the long dark night has been extinguished and there is hope once more. Perhaps this is the way that the early tribes felt as the path of nature moved ever onwards. It’s got a very progressive folk feel to it and the occasional and again repetitive harmonic vocals add nicely as you are drawn completely into the songs gentle arms. A slow tribal beat and angry spoken and growled out vocals turn things on their head for ‘Sundrojan.’ It’s a curse to the gods and almost a call to arms but it is one that develops into a really catchy melody which once heard will be hard to shift.
Still we are left with three numbers all over ten minutes, you are in for the long haul with this album and need to make sure you have the time to consume it whole. It’s not a bad pun saying that ‘Soil Magicians’ really gets the earthy and elemental feel of the album across. It is spiritual alchemy in a musical form and it is at one with the earth as guitars strum over running water and the call of wolves. By now you have probably sunk into your chair and have been transported far away, it’s not impossible you are asleep but if so the dreams may be good as what sounds like a medicine man shakes his bone and birds caw. However you might be woken suddenly as at the halfway mark a sudden burst of electric guitar brings you back almost into the real world and indignant cries build up vocally. By the time the clattering snare and heavyset sounds of ‘Disgust And The Horrible Realization Of Apathy’ sets in we are in a much darker place than that which we entered the album at. It has been an illuminating journey and as we know peace and tranquility is something that is always going to be destroyed. The shades of light and darkness on this album illustrate things perfectly, the fires are now lit and their blaze touches and consumes all.
A remarkable album from a unique band.
(8/10 Pete Woods)