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Set Fire To Flames | Telegraphs In Negative / Mouths Trapped In Static (130701)
Forget everything you know about pop music. Torch that rock 'n' roll rulebook. Then turn your back on every verse-chorus-verse tune that you've ever encountered. For in the scarred hands of Set Fire To Flames, virtually nothing that's gone before makes sense any more. A 13-piece collective formed by various floating members of Montreal's post-rock sector, Set Fire To Flames are everything you'd expect from such a strange secret society. It's the noise made by the bottom falling out of the world and evaporating into the abyss.
A double-disc of improvisations and field recordings - trimmed down from 12 hours to around 90 minutes - 'Telegraphs...' almost makes Godspeed You Black Emperor!'s eccentricities appear chart-friendly in comparison. Recorded in a deserted barn, the band's aim was to "telegraph something beautiful through waves of static", in the hope that the echoes of their decaying surroundings would manifest themselves in the music. Their mission has been entirely successful: rarely has the feeling of dread been documented so painstakingly.
For those expecting Canada to house wall-to-wall Alanis Morissette doppelgangers, this is akin to the Blair Witch forming its own improv ensemble. There's an endless stream of bizarre noises here, from guitar and bass drones, to "gutted motors" and "faulty electronics" through to samples of birds chattering and furniture being shifted. In-between, tracks like Sleep Maps and When Sorrow Shoots Her Darts score incessant memorial marches. It's the sound of post-rock self-combusting. And spreading its ashes deep, deep underground.

Ian Fletcher
CWAS #12 - Summer 2003