Well, when asked to describe the new Fiery Furnaces album, my mouth spilled the word-salad frenzy I’ve always spouted when describing their previous works.
So many emotions to hyphenate while trying to pretend I’m the only one who’ll ever hear these songs. But, in the interest of full disclosure, here it goes…
Where are the Chamberlin flutes?! I know “psychedelic” is the new watchword for any indie rock band who fancies themselves worth the salt, but really, there aren’t enough kids out there saying what the 60’s really meant. If they had the guiding light of Matthew’s flutey-toots, they’d understand! I did, however, enjoy the way this new Furnaces album imitated the ghostly harmonies of an old choir group through the use of guitars. That one song “Poddington Piffle” sounded like a 50’s Disney movie being projected through a dead man’s head, with all the cavernous cavities whistling out the film’s sing-along soundtrack. Do I yearn for more songs like “Inca Rag”? Yes. HOWEVER, I got that in spades, jack, with “Bee In Your Botso”, quite possibly the only song on planet Earth that has the guts to sound like Raymond Scott vibraphone-ing his way down a mountain, in a steam engine that committed suicide when it heard what music Raymond was humming in the cafe cart and went off its own rails.
The rest is still taking shape in my memory, but I will say that keeping the cover of Rodd Keith’s “Don’t Throw My Love Away” was their best decision yet. That’s not B-side material, and we’re in the era of responsibility now, so, go nuts! Perhaps an entire album of Rodd Keith covers is in store for us one day, but for now, keep the feedback drenched, the adventures light and the album art shimmering. Perhaps press the next album exclusively on a sensitive kinda wax that melts after only 3 listens. The fans will either constantly have to buy more copies, or they’ll only have a lingering sound in their heards, which will make them work hard at trying to be creative and re-create their own impressions of their newly-disintegrated favorite album. I’ve got plenty of these sorts of ideas, so when you’re ready to team up, Friedbergers, I’ll hop that first Megabus out of Chicago and meet you in Benton Harbor (it’s cool– I’ve got friends in Kalamazoo I could stay with).
The Fiery Furnaces new album sounds like a cooing baby. Laughing and smiling at nothing in particular and never acknowledging the existence of anything that came before this moment….now. In this perpetual state of “Now” the baby is without judgement and this allows ideas to flow freely like a drainage system after a torrential down pour. The only thing I foresee being a problem is the fact that every note itself is a different song…. Not a problem in a sense that it will effect the people hearing it but a problem in the length of time it might take to create an entire album in this manner. You must not pay attention to any single detail and take from each detail whatever you will. But I cannot stress the importance of listening to this album over and over and over and over but never paying attention until every single song is embedded into your subconscious, until you hear the song and recognize it but every time you hear it it’s like new and only give you that feeling of deja vu After you have intentionally not paid attention to every song and every word you are ready to really listen….at which point you will turn off your cd player and go out into the street and scream as loud as you can….if someone screams back….whatever that person has said is the real sound of the album….if nothing is said back….that is also the sound.
‘I’m going away’ is the sound of gulls and a Mediterranean sea-breeze echoing in mandolin strings and maraca shakes. After a sunny day of sailing on a mahogany speedboat from the Greek Isles to Sicily, the Friedbergers stumbled off the dock, sea legs still about them and tanned as olive pickers, and into the cobble-stoned sea town where they entranced the locals with swirling organ and slide guitars and mucky English grammar.
“It doesn’t make much sense,” said a bystander. “It doesn’t translate too well.”
Imagine a trip to Trumpton but spell bound in a bath tub full of bleach as your skin leaks WD40 and your Speedoâs are being pumped with jelly by a grizzly bear on the wrong flight from Montreal.
5 ***** and with the cover of âLose Your Illusionâ making it 6 stars out of 4.
Chips for the Poor
The Fiery Furnaces return with their eighth and most powerful album to date. They kick things off with their title track, âIâm Going Awayâ which is a quiet wink to the Furnacesâ previous opening tracks. Using samples from âSouth Is Only a Homeâ, âQuay Curâ, âSingle Againâ, âThe Garfield Elâ, âIn My Little Thatched Hutâ and âThe Philadelphia Grand JuryââŠthe song is a bit crowded, but feels like an old attic filled with beautiful lost junk that bring on the most comfortable of memories. Some would raise a fuss about a forty plus minute opening track without vocals, but it ultimately works.
The album then dissolves into spoken word, Bukowski style, for five consecutive tracks. This will rub fans the wrong if they donât read the liner notes like all good music fans do. If you buy two albums and start the spoken word segment of the album at the same time as the forty-minute instrumental opening, the two sounds fuse, creating the perfect song. I cried for a day after hearing the two sounds hold hands, dance, and have sex in my ears.
The album then adds to the confusion with five straight under ten second songs that are various landscape sound effects. We hear the sounds of an airport, coffee shop, and shopping mall. To the causal listener this will go over their head, but the Furnaces are quite political with this decision, obviously criticizing capitalism with an analysis of dead space, much like French painter Taki Louis did in 1912 with his âLamperieâ watercolors.
The album ends with the brilliant track, âTake Me Round Againâ a song that is simply the sounds of pianos falling of large buildings. The band reverses the sound a la âBitter Teaâ and then ends the last part of the song by covering MGMTâs âKidsâ. In an interview the band stated that they wanted to point out that music is deadâŠif people want crap like MGMT, here you goâŠhave itâŠtake itâŠ.enjoy itâŠ.WEâRE GOING AWAY.
8.95 / 10
The Fiery Furnaces have crafted something real, A literal oil of an album, some real rainbows dwell all over the bends and shines
supplied by none other than One single Eleanor Friedberger, heavily reading from a dictionary word-filtered from
a thesaurus, backed with a very Matthew-Friedbergeranesque performance that’s not even touching on some dirty synth all over the creaks and cracks of dusky 70’s sitcom themesongodelia.
the “Fiery Furnaces” have clearly and cleanly claimed “yea, guitars!” this time around, with intensely business mannerlied guitars, recalling a young, but not brash, Ron Perlman played deftly by live guitars-ist Guitar “Mike Mignola” Guitar. “Nay, bass!” the fieries’ cried, brokenheartedly decrying the brute! left out to low end some other town, bass was not invited. But, drums! How here! How alive! The drums, played basically and seriously by too friendly cats rubbing into a floor tom, messed up on deep pore cleanser and upmarket markup bag cereal, provide it All or Nothing, “hip”ly employed and taught by Fa Magazine’s “Mic of Mike’s” Mike Leigh.
Named preliminary album of the year by “Centipede City, and Other Sailors,” alternative lifestyle magazine for young and affluently comfortable Chipodas, I’m Going Away marks a signifigant thing. It’s a real thing.
This record sounds more like Taxi than Titanic. It has a laughter track. It’s half an hour long, but only 22 minutes of actual songs if you take out the adverts.
The remaining 8 minutes are made up of newly-arranged musical adverts for the Fiery Furnaces’ previous albums, interspersed between the songs.
The closing 6-minute harpsichord solo has to be heard to be believed, charting the chronological development of popular song over the last 1000 years.
their style was like the ragged edge of left fielding when the ball game turned into a nightmare for the twisted spears.
a subtle yet upheaval of the trumpet that was blaring in his lothesome ears,
weary of the plastic tasting sensations that were clogging the airwaves with the smoke from the burning rubber
on a 2d roadmap.
when the muscles ran out of oil for their over grown tans, they had to turn to canibalistic styles of information gathering.
but the sly foxes struck down by the traps of nox-ions, chewed off their cancers to feed to the bear cubs.
the bear cubs thankful for anything to eat at all that wasnt so synthetically diaposed showed them a secret way
like putting the mind into the sea shells so that the sounds of the waves always found their way to the intended ear.
and when it wakes up the rock that was pushed high up the hill for fear had driven the pushers to keep pushing.
the snowball effect of the butterflies flapping their wings could not be ignored except by those who had shoved their mouths full.
full of the lettuce that shouldnt have been horded but shared by all.
donkeys in love with twenty four karots of golden sound from the fiery furnaces whove been smelting it down.
golden geece laying diamonds instead of eggs but quite rough enough that it wouldnt over populate with its dazzling brilliance
genius hiding underneath a woolen fleece so that when the monkey peaks his head out to see what the fuzz is about.
it all coallesces into a change that makes cents.
-hermes says “use some or all, it matters not to him, just a token of gratitude, a wink and a nod” -
The eighth try is alway a cry for more to explore!
Scorsese, Zeppelin, Value Meals, conception!
Marriage, Warhol, Nintendo, alcohol!
Fried Burgers are the same, whether rare, well-done, quirky, poppy, dead or alive.
Bring some mustard! Also onions, if you have them! Or sugar instead, with a shovel!
For sweet, for sour, potency is the game, and they will succeed.
Succeeded in succession, no exceptions. You may expect success in excess.
For future reference or reaffirmation.
Here is my review for “I’m Going Away”. Hope you like it.
This is a concept album for the ages. I’m Going Away features bro/sis Friedberger duo in their most eclectic-sounding LP to date!! While the Friedbergers began recording a concept album about the demise of the dodo, strange things are wont to occur when your name is either Eleanor or Matthew Friedberger and you are in The Fiery Furnaces. To be anachronistic is their nature, and they are no more easily classifiable after releasing I’m Going Away, their sixth full-length, all-new LP. The final product is a concept album about the subject itself. Yes, a concept album about concept albums – and they dig deep to include arcane references to other artists’ concept albums. At times, I’m Going Away is more electronic than ever but it also brings new sounds to their already diverse arsenal of instruments. Don’t believe me, just snag a listen to hear influences of Native American drumming, Techno, Swedish funk, Traditional Ukrainian folk music and Musica Nortena. Needless to say this one will be one of the more memorable releases in 2009.
I’m sooooooooo excited for I’m Going Away:
This album definitely sounds like a storm of synthetic lasers got caught in a xylophone factory amongst a brigade of angry yeti swordsmen.
But I’ve heard that it’s coming out both the 1st of July and the 21st! Which is it???? Please let me know! Thanks!
The new Fiery Furnaces album beats me like a red-headed stepchild, then grabs me by the hair and places my battered eyes over a tin kaleidoscope filled with cosmic colors. It is the only album to be released this year with sounds that I can taste as well as hear.
I’m Going Away is a tea party thrown by Kate Bush in which the rotting corpse of Frank Zappa crashes. The decaying and gnarly guitar virtuoso pulls up a tiny blue plastic chair and sits beside the moping songstress, then pours a pot of scalding hot imaginary tea into his leather-pants clad lap. As the tea burns through the material and emits clouds of flesh and chamomile and honey scented vapor, Zappa crosses his eyes and begins to remove the hair from Kate Bush’s plastic doll guests with his skeletal fingers. Afterwords, the two adopt Victorian dresses and dance barefoot in the afternoon shade.
In a nutshell, I’m Going Away is a swift kick in the teeth to pop sensibilities, and contains lovely suites that bounce playfully between zydeco and prog-country jams.
A wide caliber of throttle-faced yarn.
The record opens with that enigmatic phrase… followed neither by “now” or “for a while”, a weary adieu, finality without closure, closure finally, closer we come to farther all the time…
I’m going away… or is it a simulation of perspective… is it the others that are going away? Before I go away, I DEMAND to see my mother, the way I once DEMANDED a drag of milk or a clean asshole, with impatient tears…
Tears freed from their innuendos by the innocence of the buds that bore them, the wide open pink, the only part of the male anatomy that whispers his womanhood… the record is for tattle-tales, for tell-tales, for those who snitch on themselves and fall face first in trouble. I was in trouble so I’m going away. I was wanted so I’m going away. I was a bounty but I’m going away.
Wanted yet wanting… neediness, needlessness, the teething say, I’m going away.
The Fiery Furnaces have spent the better part of the decade exploring complex song structure with capital “M” Musicianship. The result has consistently bridged the gap between challenging and listenable. Their latest record, I’m Going Away, is no exception. The most immediately striking thing is the liberal use of the Dorian scale in many of the songs’ melodies. The resulting “greensleevesisms” are kept afloat by energetic soul rave ups, which often collapse into Balearic come downs, spreading out like a rocky Portuguese coastline. Oh yeah, and the whole thing is a concept record about Laura Palmer’s escape from the Black Lodge. Weird.
HAHA can’t wait to hear the real thing.
The Fiery Furnaces broke with their seven year public history by not releasing a full-length last year and instead released a teasingly-titled live album “Remember,” that definitely sounded like the act of remembering sounds. Now they “return” with a further title-tease with “I’m Going Away,” and man, does this album go away and announce that it’s going away sonically.
The title track is the most going-away-est of all the tracks, which is appropriate; all of the tracks are processed with ever-evolving separate reverb effects. I don’t know, maybe they actually moved the mic’s all around the studio? That screen door slamming at the start of each chorus though … that doesn’t sound like it was recorded. It sounds like it was just, you know, there. (Yes, it has a chorus, and it is two minutes long.)
“Drive to Dallas,” “The End Is Near,” and “Charmaine Champagne” continues the Widow City tradition of dividing what might have been a single epic on older Fiery Furnaces releases into separate parts to discourage people from listening to their music in shuffle mode. It’s an admirable motive, and the song(s) is/are great; the Dallas part has probably the most abrasive slide guitar arrangement I’ve ever heard, and makes me feel like there’s actually a reason to live. “The End Is Near” has more sounds of doors closing, and the murdering slide guitar sort of becomes the lake that the creature comes out of, if you understand me. “Charmaine Champagne,” with Eleanor singing, “I think you understand my permanent hammer,” over a choir of scared boys is the kind of music this decade has been missing with its bland, old-folks, careless indie rock. The frightening slide guitar and the scared boys collide into a bizarre cross-instrument harmony that is almost as stunning as anything the Dirty Projectors, Sonic Youth or, really, the Beatles have done to date.
“Cut the Cake” and “Even in the Rain” suggest a further psychosis that is sort of unlike anything the Fiery Furnaces have done. By the time that the saxophones come out of the train tunnel with a parade of crash cymbals in the middle of “Even in the Rain,” you sort of understand that they’re grounding their music in schizophrenic crisis instead of narrative. Which is kind of a welcome change because, stories are great and everything, but incomprehensible mental states are better, at least if you’ve never explored them before as a band/auteur. “Staring at the Steeple” is the most static thing I’ve ever heard, restlessly running around like a beheaded, electrocuted chicken in a centrifuge so fast that it isn’t really going anywhere. That kind of non-energetic energy is rarely (if ever?) articulated successfully in any art form, but the Fiery Furnaces pull it off, perhaps fulfilling the dream of all avant garde art of the twentieth century. And yes, that energy mostly comes from the guitar, which makes you think, what the fuck is wrong with people that they haven’t been playing the guitar like this? You really have never heard anything like it. Seriously. It will blow your mind to hear something, in 2009, that you have never heard before. In your lifetime. You thought it was impossible. But it’s not/was not.
“Ray Bouvier” and “Keep Me in the Dark” suggest that the mental state-person-story that started with the person going away already gone has ended with that person-mental state-narrative fully gone away. There are bird-synthesizers chirping melodies over a calmer ocean of piano and synth pads, and the boys’ choir sounds a lot less frightened. Eleanor sings an oddly cheesy couplet, “Keep me in the dark / because it’s brighter here” that actually doesn’t bug me at all. It sounds sort of … perfect?
But “Lost at Sea” suggests that this person/mental state has not gone fully away, and the weird drifting reverb/door slamming motif returns as Eleanor sings, “I’ve been watching that hand / push me / and I’m pushing back,” and all hell/heaven breaks loose. It kind of puts you in a spiritual mood, and makes you realize that being spiritual is not all the roses and springtimes it sounds like it is; but that realization makes you feel fucking great. It basically sounds like the Boredoms covering an Os Mutantes song for a solid five minutes, while Eleanor’s disembodied voice gets lost and found in the cave, in the sea, in a large hall, at a snare reverb plate, at a gate verb with echo. What is she saying is less the question than, what is this not saying?
Sadly, “Cups and Punches” and “Take Me Round Again” feel kind of tacked on after that blissful infusion of total sex, and I’m not sure why the album needed to be 82 minutes long. Cello strings break for a reason, and that’s because you’re supposed to stop rubbing the bow against the wood when they do. But, that’s the price the listener and a band/auteur plays for going further back than 14 billion years to the immaculate future to realize joy from newness. The marching band stuff at the end of “Take Me Round Again” is pretty nice, but Eleanor basically crying and describing a tiny apartment for six minutes over drumming and a melodica with mouse-clicking and channel changing sounds on “Punches” is more disturbing than it is uplifting. And then the applause for two minutes. Is this â maybe? â another live album? Or is it an album about being alive? I don’t know, boy and gal, but keep going away, because that means you’ll always be returning.
â John Acquadro/Goodbye the Band/Demalgamated Pictures
The Fiery Furnaces last released a worthwhile album never, when they
were called the Dying, Cold Embers. Pop. Yet here they go again,
attempting to coalesce soundwaves, acting like the fact that they can
arrange tones and pitches and make it sound like something humans did
is really worth a spend of your and my dime, ladies & gentlemen.
Apparently Matthew Friedberger has decided, on I’m Going Away (won’t
you?), that his new hero is the individual who invented the carousel
band organ; Eleanor Friedberger, having made a “career” sounding like
an outboard motor at diction school, meanwhile now wants every fifth
word to rhyme, for better or worse. I will give them this: one song
(”Cut the Cake”) makes you wish, if only for 210 seconds, that the
Fender Rhodes had never been invented, a wish that only the fine
people at the Wurlitzer corporation have had a right to — until now.
Have you ever had the pleasure of feeling like the simplest-seeming
melody, as performed on a Fender Rhodes, is actually being played on
your heartstrings? “Cut the Cake,” just one of the many (12, to be
exact) deep keyboard-based pleasures on the latest Fiery Furnaces
album I’m Going Away, threatens to do just that. Of course, it
wouldn’t be fair to place all the ecstatic blame on the Mr. of the
sibling duo. The Eleanor Friedberger to Matthew’s Matthew Friedberger
has never written a more concise prose cycle. Flannery O’Connor would
throw away her religion to write this one. All told, the finest
voicings of Harry Nilsson and Laura Nyro have been thrown in the wash
‘n’ dry and bleached to 2009-fashioned perfection… and beyond, to
the future. If you take a road trip without listening to this album,
you are crazy and that is final.
“I’m Going Away”- starts out with a 10 minute guitar solo, “Maggot Brain” style. it may or may not dissolve into a noise collage after that, and then an acapella version of the song, with matt’s voice in the right speaker and eleanor’s in the left.
“Drive to Dallas”- krautrock, fiery furnaces-style. i will listen to this in my car every day of the summer.
“The End is Near”- drum & bass freakout. lots of dark and forboding keyboards. maybe some slide guitar near the end.
“Charmaine Champagne”- bubbly pop number. strings and horns pepper the track (or at least strings and horns emulated by some sort of moog). nigh over 2 minutes in length.
“Cut The Cake”- police sweater blood vow on 4 hits of acid.
“Even In The Rain”- slow, acoustic ballad type deal. matt sings the whole thing. he hasn’t done that in a while. eleanor does backing vox. ends with a minute or two of field recordings.
“Staring at the steeple”- pace picks back up with a raunchy classic rock stomp. Led Zeppelin channeled through Dr. Seuss.
“Ray Bouvier”- a waltz. ragtime piano coupled with e-bowed guitar. violins. weird harmonies
“Keep Me In The Dark”- murky, lo-fi number. banjo + acoustic guitar, and a broken drum machine. the drum machine picks up speed until the end of the track is nothing but white noise
“Lost at Sea”- white noise from last track continues into this one. it fades into eleanor humming a melody, which is soon mimmicked by matt’s guitar. then eleanor starts singing for real. then a drum solo.
“Cups and Punches”- melancholy pop. turning round pt 2, but with a bit more spunk.
“Take Me Round Again”- lyrics that allude to the first track. a bit of ambient keyboards and twinkling piano. track sighs along for a bit, then drums, then guitar, then a jazz freakout til matt breaks all his strings and the drumkit falls apart. must be recorded live in one take
this album is about shooting heroin in a car. the car is speeding very fast.
and it is in the desert in the southwest United States. you are with your family and your
family doesn’t know that you are shooting heroin even though you have told them
several times, “I AM SHOOTING UP RIGHT NOW”
I’m Going Away – you are in a lake and your lungs hurt and jean paul sartre is yelling at you in a boat above you but you don’t know what he’s saying. 7/10 stars.
Drive to Dallas – now you are flying an airplane in space. you land in dallas and all of these ‘dallasinians’ come to your plane and they throw things at the plane until the plane explodes like in a video game. 2/10 stars.
The End Is Near – this is about david lynch’s house. it is in hollywood. 9.5/10 stars.
Charmaine Champagne – this one sucks. 4/10 stars.
Cut the Cake – this one is about isaac asimov’s “slow descent into the abyss” that ends with him eating cake. i know this becuase i have heard this song and it is about this. 10/10 stars.
Even in the Rain – this one features the group, “the fiery furnaces”, in an adventure through a small village in America pre-discovery by columbus. 7/10 stars.
Staring at the Steeple – this one is about a huge car that crushes all the other cars on the road. 10/10 stars.
Ray Bouvier – this one is normal. it is a song that utilizes major chords and has lyrics that talk about love and homesickness. 10/10 stars.
Keep Me in the Dark – not good. 5/10 stars.
Lost At Sea – boring
Cups and Punches – boring
Take Me Round Again – boring
As a young graduate of the University of Michigan, Michael Goldwater was interested in everything having to do with his subject major: electrical engineering. Mick, as he liked to be called, worked full-time at the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport. Much of the time he spent working amidst the roar of airplane engines as heard through a very good pair of ear defender hearing protection mufflers. The high attenuation rate and soft ear cushions cut out a swath around the high and low end of sound, and reminded him of being underwater. He pictured his hairy, rotund body floating full fathom five, carried along by a warm tropical current, his long hippie hair twisting and his eye sockets filled with pink pearls. The roar of the airplane was thus intermingled in his mind with the imagined sounds of the Hawaiian islands: the heavy noise of industry was overlaid with the lush, plinking, tropical idea of island music that he had learned of by listening to thrift store recordings (âThe authentic Sound of the Tropics in Deep 3-D Sound!â) and by watching soft-core pornography on VHS, featuring faux-island mise-en-scene and faux-tanned temptresses in cornrows writhing to incidental Island guitars.
Mick resolved to record an album in his fatherâs woodshed that would reproduce this longed-for, imagined, yet still unheard sound â a synthesis of industrial noise as heard through a pair of noise canceling headphones and ghostly tropical musics as misunderstood by a frustrated urban lumpenproletariat (the last his kind, as this period was still characterized by the Bretton Woods system of monetary management, the collapse of which would unpeg the dollar from the gold standard and herald the rise of postmodernism, which in turn would sound the death knell the type of human being Mick represented). Mick resolved to use some dusty equipment and sound-generating devices he had built for fun at the Universityâs Audio Engineering Laboratory. Some of the equipment worked less than perfectly and the resulting recordings would reveal all sorts of unpredicted imperfections, like distortions on a mirror pane or the rude interruption of a fart in a parlor conversation. The intended name of the recording was Gold Water. In the end the title Iâm Going Away was settled upon. And go away he did.
A declaration like “I’m Going Away” may be a scary thing for fans of the prolific Fiery Furnaces. Where are they going? And why? And most importantly, will they still record music when they get to wherever they’re going and send it back to us?
But for those fearing Friedberger withdrawal, fear not (at least for now) — Eleanor and Matt sound more vital than ever on their latest grandiose, unusually fast-paced and ear-demolishingly loudly-mixed LP. Indeed, if they’ve decided to go anywhere, it’s directly into your ear canal, to batter your tympanic membrane with their unique, raucous fusion of industrial rock and zydeco.
Don’t be fooled by the seemingly-innocuous skits that open the record and reappear between each track (though frankly it should set off some red flags when the child narrator during the intro suddenly begins to describe, in graphic detail, a corpse-laden Civil War battlefield and the shaky mental state of the Union soldier tasked with cleanup duty). With no time to prepare, the listener is bombarded by the thrashing title track, during which Eleanor shrieks “I’m going away / they’re going to stay / they’re gonna be hungry when I done gone!” The lyrics throughout the album are similarly disturbing, full of war imagery and numerous passages from 19th century presidential inaugural addresses.
Other major highlights include a 17-minute Miles Davis tribute facetiously titled “The End is Near,” and the welcome departure “Lost at Sea,” which is essentially a sea chantey set to distorted harpsichord. You may feel there’s something wrong with your CD when you get to the final track, “Take Me Round Again,” and hear nothing — but turn the volume up and you’ll quickly realize the music is there, just mixed at a dramatically lower volume than the rest of the record. Pretentious? Maybe. But haven’t geniuses like the Friedbergers earned that right?
“I’m Going Away” is a violent, soulful, political, and bizarre album. Even longtime fans won’t know what hit them after the first, or even second or third listen. But stick with this one. You’ll be glad the Fiery Furnaces haven’t gone away just yet.
I think that “I’m going away” is going to sound like the highest not on a grand piano if played in a giant cave, yet the only noise that makes it’s way on to the record is the reverberations after the note has been sounded. Like a very high pitched “wheeee” “wheee”….and on and on unitll the echo stops. I also imagine the sounds of hundreds of Reeses Monkey’s fornicating in the afterworld. while the specicfic song “out to sea” will most likely sound like various sea creatures being ground into chum, while the evil sea captain laughs his bellowy laugh, and smokes a corn cob pipe loaded with DMT.
sounds like the monkey makes the organ grinder twist the crank on the mechanized orchestra box while the monkey plays the calliope in a house of mirrors. Eleanor Friedberger sings long wordless notes to the sound of a motorcycle forever starting.
…begins with a light, spacious free-jazz drum solo becoming phase-shifted towards the end before a Mike Nesmith country-rock guitar riff carries it into an instrumental ditty that alternates between jaunty steel guitar and strident organ/violin/cello stabs… an echoey-whispery Eleanor intones “this is the place”…
Imagine you are about to bite into a juicy hamburger. You take that first, mouth-watering bite, chomp down, and chew. But, then, your dear friend informs you that you actually just ate a rat burger. As in, rat meat. But wait! The rat burger tastes surprisingly delicious! This is akin to listening to the new album, I’m Going Away, by the Fiery Furnaces.
The title track is full-on kraut rock for several minutes before transitioning into lite, Chris Deburgh-Lady-in-Red, new age, synth rock. “Lost at Sea” sounds like a pirate shanty took a detour through a Ziggy Stardust carnival, while “Keep me in the Dark” couples a sing-song melody with over 12 time changes and 16 key changes. I won’t spill any more info, except that “Cut the Cake” could be a lost Guns and Roses outtake. Go grab I’m Going Away, and prepare to devour a one-of-a-kind rat burger.
From opener track âgoing awayâ arrives with its Theremin and ice cube tray chattering start, to a blissfully euphoric thumping piano chord with marching band drums chorus. The fiery Furnaces let you know they are breaking new territory on there newest album. The first line of the song â So your going away? Can I have your chicken Satay?â is a bold introduction line to any album and shows how hard the band is pushing themselves sonically and lyrically.
The next number is a hi-speed mandolin ditty with a fantastical blues harmonica riff that segues in and out throughout the 1 minute 45 second number called âDrive to Dallasâ. This song sounds like the fiery furnaces but if they were drugged and forced to jam with Hayseed Dixie. âThe End Is Nearâ comes on like a nightmare its about a Swan breaking a nuns arm. Also throughout this number a ghostly childâs choir sings its haunting phrase repeatedly â It is I, And I Beg To Differâ .
You would think it nigh on impossible to make the Scottish bagpipes sound sexy but fiery furnaces disagree. âCharmaine Champagneâ – a song about a girl from Glasgow who moves to Sweden to churn butter but develops an addiction sleeping pills which she refers to as âThe Champagne of the narcotic worldâ – with Its skirling pipes and groovy bass line somehow make it the greatest love making song since Robbie Williams âAngelsâ.
The next song or rather 3 songs that intertwine together in the style of The Beatles Abbey Road album. Cut the cake is a techno synth number with a mariachi vibe turns into the instrumental track âEven In The Rainâ which uniquely uses the spoons as the lead instrument on the track. The spoons then get joined by more spoons till thereâs a huge rhythm being driven by the spoons clacking which abruptly stops and turns into the sole piano and voice ballad âStaring at The Steepleâ . This 5 minute heart tugger is about a woman who is so convinced her husband is getting cold feet and wont turn up the church that she gives herself an aneurysm and as she lies there staring at the steeple waiting for the ambulance, her husband arrives at the church.
As the album progresses we turn into a rock stomper named âRay Bouvierâ which is about an amateur boxer with bad coordination. The chorus comes across as a gary glitter stomper with the catchy chorus of â left or right, glassjaws break without a fight, Give it up for love or be defeated by a gloveâ.
Closing track âTake Me Round Againâ is acoustic meets keyboards meets animal noises. It sounds like the fiery furnaces are taking a stroll round a local farm and recording the noises they hear and singing what they smell.
Thatâs my review, I look forward to seeing if I guessed correctly!
Dear sir and madam:
The new Fiery Furnaces album sounds more like Fiery Furnaces than Fiery Furnaces have ever sounded!
Thank you for your time,
Zac R Cocciolo.
should your album be described in metaphors, in plot summary, or in sounds? i suppose it can’t hurt to do a little of both.
“i’m going away” – each verse centered around a different sort of travel: cruise ship, airplane, bicycle, unicycle perhaps, with music according, each with a climax as that mode of transportation fails, crashes, bursts into flame, drives off a cliff. with no other way to escape, the protagonist of the song punctuates the outro with hard breathing as they sprint over the border out of the country.
“drive to dallas” – a sort of neo futuristic twang, and by some providence, there is no slide guitar, which is so often overused in ANY song that refers to dallas, nashville, or another major southern city that is neither atlanta nor in florida. the song speeds up as the protagonist becomes more desperate to reach her destination, picks up a myriad of hitchhikers in her volkswagen van who add eclectic music to the background as the melody becomes more and more frantic.
“the end is near” – the audio equivalent to standing at the top of the city and looking down on each building as, one by one, from smallest to largest, the buildings shake and fluctuate in and out of existence until they finally evaporate and stain the sky with metal and glass. the music becomes more and more jagged as the protagonist sings calmly over the chaos, and her voice cuts off suddenly as the building on which she is standing finally vanishes as well and the listener is left with the sound of twisted metal, broken and melting glass, which twist into a warped version of the city floating above where it was located.
“charmaine champagne” – fiery, noisy, bubbly pop song with a driving electronic beat, indulgent melody that careens across the protagonist’s vocal range as she gets more and more tipsy, eventually stumbling out of the party to the street where she drunkenly climbs a tree and calls to the moon to bring her good luck. string sections spiral upward and lose their bearings as all her emotions become tangled with each other and the song falls apart one instrument at a time.
“cut the cake” – a wedding scene perhaps. a fight breaks out over a quibble about honor, but the protagonist, on her wedding day, is blissfully oblivious. she gazes at her beautiful cake and fantasizes about her honeymoon as her new husband and his best friend wrestle on the ground behind her. the scene erupts into a west side story style conflict and the music is elevated to a state of total panic as the protagonist calmly dreams above it.
“even in the rain” – a ballad. the feeling of getting soaked, awe of the city as it drips and melodies run together, the protagonist constructs a harmony with herself. the feeling of finally falling in love with the city where you live even though you’ve been there for years.
“staring at the steeple” – creepy organ song with swirling riffs and a sped up carnival-style funeral procession. the sky turns red as the protagonist takes it all in and the drums become more chaotic, more overwhelming.
“ray bouvier” – ray bouvier is my best friend.
“keep me in the dark” – a woman is one of many being used by a man, to whom he promises each his whole heart. the five women finally meet, without realizing their common thread, and as they spend more time together they become the same person, and the different paths of their lives, and thus, their musical styles and melodies, combine and intertwine, eventually becoming assimilated and the outro is a frenzy of action as they all realize they are being used and break up with the man in a terrifying unison of fury.
“lost at sea” – two shipwreck survivors encounter each other in the ocean, have a pleasant conversation, and drift on their respective ways.
“cups and punches” – 4th of july neighborhood block party chaos. red white and blue sounds, firework beats, watermelon eating contests and wheelbarrow races.
“take me round again” – a round song, like row row row your boat, but with building layers of instruments and with more complicated vocal melodies each time. protagonist describes revisiting the neighborhood where she was born, finding what has changed and what has stayed the same, but becoming more and more nostalgic, sometimes repeating herself, getting confused as to what she has already described and talking over other layers of her own voice. she decides to move back
“Question: Is it advisable to train one’s voice, if one has not much of it?
Answer: One might ask: Is it advisable to do physical exercises when one is very thin? If one is thin, it is even more necessary to do physical exercises. So if there is no voice, it is more necessary that one should develop it.”
-From Hazrat Inayat Kahn’s “The Mysticism of Sound and Music,” Page 93.
The Fiery Furnaces new album, “I’m Going Away,” is anything but thin and voiceless. In fact, you may compare this album to an opera singer: plump and boisterous, with the sheer force to shatter a glass house. The Fiery Furnaces have certainly gain some weight, both musically and physically, since their last release, and it serves them well. Their inner album artwork – an “American Gothic”-esque depiction of the rotund siblings – is a beautiful companion to the fat tunes – “Ray Bouvier” is an ode to the Adirondack furniture maker of the same name, with some of the most obese piano chords I’ve ever heard. “Cut the Cake” is more or less a tribute to the siblings’ recent overindulgence in junk food – a beautifully inspired number that finds the duo exploring new instrumentation, like the bubble organ, the fire organ, and kazoo. However, the true standout of this album is closer “Take Me Round Again.” It’s the chubbiest song in terms of length – a whopping twenty four minutes and thirty two seconds long – which is part spoken word, part klezmer, part ska, and part audiobook – yes, there is a difference between spoken word and audiobook. You see, the album’s booklet doesn’t feature any lyrics; rather, it’s a short novel written by the duo back in 2001 when they vacationed in Nauru (coincidentally the fattest country in the world) that goes by the same name of the track. Brother Matthew Friedberger reads the first half of the book over the klezmer/ska concoction (a crazy mix of accordions, pianos and a 3 piece horn section, reminiscent of his teenage ska/punk days), while Sister Eleanor Friedberger provides the spoken word, in a sort of stream of consciousness babble, lined with mysterious advice and tales of weird made-up animals. At the 12:16 mark – exactly half the song – the two switch roles seamlessly. The song ends with a bang – literally, it sounds like they blew up a hot air balloon. This moment calls to mind the second Harry Potter book, when his (fat) aunt is at the receiving end of a turn-into-a-floating-human spell, and blows up in the air, causing anger and general chaos at the otherwise Privet Drive flat. However, this ending is most appropriate for the band, as the tunes get thicker and thicker till the very end; they can hardly contain themselves. So, get ready for the Fiery Furnaces most gargantuan work to date.
***I don’t think you guys are actually fat.***
At long last the Fiery Furnaces have opted to nurture their positively unparalleled pop sensibilities (cf. “Up in the North / Inca Rag / Name Game”, “Birdie Brain / Turning Round”, “Here Comes the Summer / Evergreen / Sing for Me”, “The Garfield El”, “Waiting to Know You”, &c.) and kicked the ridiculous, maddening habit of sabotaging those instincts at every turn (cf. you know which parts from the previous records, Widow City start to finish), in the process creating what we always dreamt they had in ‘em: the purest, gut-wrenchingest, soul-transportingest long player in the sordid history of rock and roll music.
the new album will sound like listening to a celestial plume from a lighthouse on your great aunt’s record player, during a sunrise.
thanks for accepting this, all words from the FF reviews of allmusic.com and pitchfork.com
First things first: an elegant dare: Why is it that some of the biggest Furnace-friends I know are telling me that they’re…not so much feeling cool stereo imaging! Which is unfortunate since Iâm Going Away contains some unfailingly gorgeous, absurdly fat “Birdhouse in Your Soul” instincts with jump-rope pacing, a marathon of real-life wanderings run like a near-miracle synth blitzkrieg.
Tracks include ferocious bootlegs and classic rock whizzes that kill the magic, warts and all, yet the album’s long epics fall victim to the most aggressive editing: âStaring At The Steepleâ cuts abruptly to a deathly quiet recording of the Friedbergers having a sibling moment like some lost songbook from the turn of the century, just on the right side of unscathed.
One minute Matthew’s ramming through a middle-aged woman posting arcane Xeroxes around the University of Chicago campus; the next he’s coaxing soft-rock and soul arrangements out of the free-jazz settings on an Edgar Winters organ, while consulting a 6,000-page book of 20th-century American blueberry history. Is that even what you want anymore?
How fascinating and idiosycratic they’d still sound– if Frankensteins that speak in ransom-note cut-ups outgrow the most accessible the band has written for everybody. It is a very different record: no Fiery Furnaces, no squelchy Moog that references comprehension of the actual lyrics to make provocative documentary films about the Noah’s Ark of retro guitars, reworking and sequencing the songs for different contexts.
If you don’t like âThe End Is Nearâ, I don’t like you. It’s a matter of taste, other than the fact that I have table scraps with a delivery similar to Peter Gabriel in his Genesis days, and Eleanor’s singy vocals show a three-ring circus concept album overwhelm any songcraft.
“Drive To Dallas”, the band’s sweetest spliced-together song structure, comes close to making the Carpenters comparisons more than just commentary on sweeping harps and a slightly creepy audio book of meterological conditions. It pretty much demands to be listened to as a whole, at least the first few times.
If you can swallow rickety old Fords, crinkling photographs of Robert Mitchum, excessive drinking, gabbing about the war, and the 40s, 20s, 30s, 50s, then the funeral march from weird testament to amateur prog-rock dementia at the hands of one of two boyfriends named 15, its practical function is uninterrupted listening. The emotional dance is penetrable, and somewhere along the way, the track “Cut The Cakeââ the tale of the hapless captain of bravery mirrors: Matthew Friedberger sings more on Beanie Grayson, OxyDamascus and Star Hustler, sounding downright gentle.
Interestingly, like asking a local for pizza and hearing stream-of-consciousness gunshot wounds with rousing choruses, or ’50s-style ballad slow-dance synth pop drunken vaudeville, all the songs aren’t uniformly great, there’s something interesting about each of them: “Cups and Punches” sounds a little like a fractured version of “Flight of the Bumblebee” performed by a Asian-inspired player piano. “Ray Bouvier’sâ melody sounds more than a little like Blueberry Boat’s kaleidoscope doing the chorus of the Rolling Whatnots’ “Child of the Moon,” and “Lost At Sea”’s funky, behemoth riff could be parodied with tuba solos and a great children’s story, away from safety, adventure, and breadcrumbs.
The Furnaces’ storytelling is also sharper here than an embittered elderly couple with chattering monkeys in the background adding Latin funk jams, keyboard-driven prog rock excursions, and elaborate medleys. This isn’t just edited or subtly provided fodder for a more conventional honky tonk-inspired version of “Charmaine Champagneâ virtually in name only, but it may delight fans still looking for the band’s cover of the dress rehearsals for Blueberry Boat.
new record will sound like:
Stevie Nicks fucking Patti Smith on scarface’s desk if it were covered with meth instead of cocaine.
The Fiery Furnaces: I’m Going Away
I was more than surprised when I hear the new Fiery Furnaces album, I’m Going Away; the amazing songwriting and lyrics were almost as stunning as the band’s new style, a sophisticated yet raw combination of acid house, no wave skronk, and French Chanson. The title track, an absurdly different version of the traditional song, exemplifies this style; as the lush accordion begins to play over the harshly programmed 303 bassline, one may think a new height in emotional house anthems has been reached. That is, until the detuned guitars begin bashing out something rhythmic in a tribal kind of way. Strangely, these elements only complement each other and add to the emotional impact of the song; as the song gives way to an extended outro-cum-noise jam, the searing noise of the guitars becomes just as strikingly beautiful as the heartbreaking tones of the accordion.
Other tracks venture into even more exotic musical territory, adding theremin and dialogue sampled from Jean-Luc Godard films to the mix; Jack Palance’s lines in Contempt are cryptic and unsettling when played over the soundscape of the opening track, which has the feel of an early Jacques Brel song played by the Contortions and produced by DJ Pierre.
With I’m Going Away, the Fiery Furnaces have made a tremendous step in the field of popular music. Never have such disparate genres been combined in such a fabulously entertaining and profound way. In short, I’m Going Away is album of the year, hands down; next to it, Merriweather Post Pavillion looks like a new Jonas Brother album, Bromst might as well have been made by Kenny G, and The Crying Light is elevator music. Orgasmic.
“I’m Going Away”, due to be released on July 21st 2009 on the esteemed Thrill Jockey label, sounds a lot like Blueberry Boat, but less prog-gy, more angst-ridden and epic and less elementary-school-play-performed-by-ADD-afflicted-precocious-tweeners sounding. It’s very Rehearsing My Choir, but instead of the grandma they collaborate with crazy Uncle Phil back from wandering Hollywood who wears a shower cap and yells at the city street workers and bangs a big schoolbell every time they stop drilling. Uncle Phil once made it onto the morning zoo radio show when they warned people to stay away from his street, that a man was marching up and down the middle in traffic with a gun. Turns out it was just a busted hockey stick. I think he tried to strangle the neighbor once, too. That Uncle Phil, I tell ya.
I’m Going Away: A crazy long experimental piece full of instrumental digressions, about a bus driver in 1947
Driving to Dallas: A quiet piano balladish with a creepy undertone
The End Is Near: A paranoid, minor, a capella song
Charmaine Champagne: Synthesizer pop about a dead friend. Upbeat nonetheless
Cut the Cake: A very short song about being bored at someone else’s wedding
Even in the Rain: A story about a French neo-classical painter, Antoine-Jean Gros
Staring at the Steeple: A lo-fi, Catholic church version of the classic love song of desire and rejection
Ray Bouvier: The odyssey of a zombie
Keep Me in the Dark: An acoustic, “Hotel Yorba”-esque song about childhood
Lost at Sea: Sea-chantey in the spirit of a mental-institution version of the Decemberists
Cups and Bunches: Your older brother’s eighth birthday party
Take Me Round Again: An instrumental with a horn section in D minor
Will Vander Ark
As one slips the needle onto I’m Going Away, the new multi-track recording from new age veterans, The Fiery Furnaces, it can’t be ignored – the crystal-born movement has caught-and-unfortunately passed-by these once-intrepid feel-good melody-makers. Diverging from their bread-and-butter formula, Mr. and Mrs. Furnace have offered-up a dissonant mix of saw-blades and harmony-laced tones to produce a tour-de-force (maybe a tour-de-furnace) that would turn even the most-devoted of John Tesh fans to the dark-side. Listen-at-risk would be my caution. Those-who-may-not-be-named have turned a cheek to that-which-has-been-great-to-them, the results – while intriguing – may leave many listeners longing for the days-of-yore when rock-and-roll was the devil and the ozone was our protector.
I’M GOING AWAY:
This album starts with dripping, fingers dripping rhythmically on the desk while waiting for a phone call.
An old wood office in the 1980’s.
George Plupart, not smoking, paces a cowlick into the carpet.
Honey-voiced adult line operators, after work, go to karaoke and drink Wild Turkey and C*Plus.
A letter, read aloud, over the radio. A desperate attempt to connect.
THE END. that’s all I hear
ALSO: I write for saidthegramophone.com, I wrote an article about Remember earlier this year for Matrix Magazine in Montreal, I’ve attached the pdf, as the DEAF DESCRIPTIONS idea reminded me of it. I thought you might like my audience polling data, pre-warmed for you
all the best,
acute referential schizophrenia
The Fiery Furnaces new record “I’m Going Away” simultaneously looks to
the future while holding onto the past. Certain things remain from
their previous records such as their off kilter lyrics and wonderfully
bizarre arrangements, but the overall atmosphere of the record is
completely different. Like their recent release “Widow City”, “I’m
Going Away” is packed full of the terrific sounds of the mellotron and
chamberlin keyboards. But this time around these vintage instruments
were not enough, and I can hear liberal dashes of other classic 70s
instruments (such as moog, organ, and harpsichord) on several of the
album’s songs. This may cause people to think of this record as their
“prog” album, but the Furnaces already did that with “Blueberry Boat”
and they aren’t ones to repeat themselves. No this album is largely a
pop one. Each song is fairly concise (all but one are under four
minutes) and a bright shiny hook lies at the center of each. The only
exception is the closing track which stretches over 12 minutes and
includes almost as many musical ideas as the rest of the album
combined. Quirkiness abounds throughout and it’s a really adorable
kind of quirkiness, several degrees detached from the rest of the
world. It’s delightful in a word, and Fiery Furnaces in two.
It’s super crazy insane electricalness and noise plus percussionism and whoal. So good like the universe.
Sine O’ the Times Magazine, July 21st:
After an increasingly sickening nine years of sing-song melodies, inane lyrics, and pop folly, siblings (/lovers?) Eleanor and Matthew Friedburger (a Ramonesque nom-de-plumage, for the uninitiated) have finally created a work worth its weight in vinyl — a dark collage-concrete conceptual think-piece piece with echoes of late Thomas Pynchon and early Godspeed :[:Jew-Black:]: Emperrror. The shock to the system is immediate and unexpected, like a defibrillator used to perpetrate a bank robbery: the opening, titular track finds Matthew looping a Burl Ives sample over the soft sound of an 808 as a child slave beats it, beats it, beats it into sweet oblivion with what remains of a desert iguana raised on the dried tears of Sudanese genocide widows — an effectively affecting meditation on loss of life. In so many words, the elegant and apocalyptic Iâm Going Away is Betamax for the soul.
âCharmaine Champagneâ is a Reichian tape-loop reverie wherein a synthesized koto sheepishly leads on a choir of treated Eleanors through a wild wilderness of banjo-toting 19th-century blackface minstrels, singing dulcet-low how âsoft, soft, softer were the bucklets of her pettitroth / sweetest Charmaine pudenda-blest / touch me on the lawn of the Bogavalesco.â
Eleanor Friedburger is a deaf-muteâs Patti Smith in the best sense. To quote Jeremy Cagewit, âTalking about music is like masturbating about architecture.â Thus I imagine Matthew Friedburger stark naked, poised upon the brinkety-brink of a Mayan sacrifice pit, laying soft pan flute over the sultry mumblings of dearest Eleanor.
And they have achieved the impossible dream. Awake, for reality has burned itself a new peep-hole!
The bright, lush, lively song “Apart For Life” will sound unlike any of the flaccid tracks off Dylan’s “Together Through Life.”
“Hijacking a Cinco de Mayo Float Bound for Pilsen” will be an epic, whimsical suite relating the adventures of one man and his daring abduction of a shiny sequin float (speeding west on Randolph to a holiday parade on the South Side) to visit his former roommate’s flat in Seattle, where she’s taking graduate level theatre classes (and teaching Viewpoints [think synergy]) at the University of Washington. Fun interludes will include a stop at a highway shop in Montana to procure crowns and wands, as well as an inner-city showdown of breakdancing schoolchildren (competing for positions on the float when Tom Robbins leads The Northern Lights Parade in the Cascades).
“I’m in the Picture” will be an insular musique concrete piece documenting the knowledge that one’s reflection has been captured in an unknown number of tourists’ cameras that snapped The Bean (”Cloud Gate”, please, squeaks Anish Kapoor).
Can’t wait for yr new album! Play Chicago soon, purdy please???
Oh Matthew and Eleanor. You are the Scooby and the Gang of the alternative music scene. (One part jock, one part bimbo, one part nerd, and two parts flea-bitten. Hehe, is that bitter flea or bitten tea?) And I say all this, of course, as if some deafly penned metaphorical device could produce the same vicarious anticipation that presently precipitates pondering pontificators throughout the merry world of Friedberger-Land. Yes, we fans are an eccentric lot. Ever since I stumbled onto the phrase “Sir Edward Pepsi,” I knew this was my band.
So then, what sort of kaleidoscopic opuses can one expect to glean from the new disc? The kaleidoscopic kind, that’s what! I suppose the most logical approach would be to listen to the album in its proper sequence, but legend has it that if your stereo or iTurntable has just the right tinge of serendipity, shuffling the tracks and muting your television will produce a very trippyâat least to the extent that nerds can trip outâexperience while watching The Exorcist. Not since the Dark Side of the Moon and Wizard of Oz debacle has there existed such a complementary cross-format marriage ofâokay, fine, it only synchronizes with Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, but where’s the street cred in that?
Then again, where’s the street cred in any of it? It’s not as if thug liferz could embrace such smarmy gimmicks as the marimba-tinged opener. We’re first greeted with a soundbyte of a door slamming and hall monitor heels clacking against echoey, pine-scented ceramics. (I assume a pine scent; so sue me!) Apparently there’s an alternate version on which Eleanor doesn’t sing the phrase “That’s it / I’ve had enough / I didn’t even loose his cuffs / A map to Kilimanjaro written in lipstick / on the bathroom mirrow, worse than an ant itch / I’m going away to sip chardonnay / where the cattle low and the horses neigh.” But I prefer to think this is the official version.
“Drive to Dallas” picks up the pace with a strange blend of analog and electronic instruments. It’s definitely the album’s Jekyll and Hyde, meshing Matthew’s signature piano licks with crap era Phil Collins beats. Of course, the pulsating arrangement and Eleanor’s staccato delivery are what really make this song the cracking number it is. Dallas, of course, is football country, and one gets the impression that she’s aware of the cutthroat lives of cheerleaders as she bellows “That bitch and her schisms / her high metabolism.” Irony was never lost on the Friedbergers, and I’m Going Away showcases their storytelling sensibilities quite well overall.
“The End is Near” is the first sign of familiar territory. It’s a dusty bar ballad akin to the closing section of “Blancheflower” on sophomore release Blueberry Boat. It also serves as a nice breather after the first two songs, embracing a simpler but more melodious pace.
Next comes the bubbly (pun intended) “Charmaine Champagne.” Just as the Fiery Furnaces captured the sonic equivalent of drunkenness on “A Candymaker’s Knife in my Handbag,” here they pull off the score of a fruity drink. And yes, ever since Rehearsing My Choir it’s been strangely temping to read more into the album and assume a metanarrative, but in my interpretation this is the same tragic failure from “Dallas.” Charmaine, as she’s referred to in this song, mourns a failed romance (with, uh, the Fred character?) as she indulges in berry-flavored combustibles in some scuzzy hotel room. The whimsical arrangement might be a little too deceptive in this case, but I’d say the Friedbergers have earned the benefit of the doubt. By now, fans should have grown accustomed to their real-time expressiveness, and I prefer to assume that, although the protagonist’s surroundings might be rife with cigarette burns and stains in the carpet I won’t expound upon, her mind is probably reeling with sugar, alcohol, and enough carbon dioxide to tickle her nose.
“Cut the Cake” is another feather in their classic-rock cap, propelled by Matt’s keystrokes and Eleanor on guitar. It’s curious why they chose to omit percussion for this song, but it lulls the listener into a false sense of security as they transition quite abruptly into “Even in the Rain.”
Leave it to the Friedbergers to soundtrack life’s foibles. As the album’s centerpiece, “Rain” clocks in at over 9 minutes and incorporates several distinct sections as we venture through a smoggy city at night. I’m half inclined to suggest the setting is London, but that could be my own preconceptions at work.
Ever the dramatists, “Staring at the Steeple” is another abrupt shift, similar to the archbishop’s entrance in Choir’s title track. This synth-heavy epiphany serves as a great springboard into “Ray Bouvier,” which, after a very inoffensive intro, builds into a crescendo of distortion. (Seriously, my jaw dropped upon hearing it.) It would seem they’ve made the transition from 70s rock to Sonic Youth between studio albums, at least for one song. No complaints on this end.
The remainder plays out like your standard Friedberger fodder. Alliterative, but not overbearing; fantastical, but only because the average person simply lacks the kind of surrender they capture in their lyrics. I’ve often wondered whether Matthew and Eleanor are well-read travelers or well-traveled readers. Such consideration is probably an exercise in hair-splitting, but the question brings a smile to my face. Some day, I’ll have enough courage to thumb my way across America. Who knows what may follow. Maybe I’ll stowaway on a steamship and find myself washed up on the shores of some African nation. My luck, they’d be cannibalistic and my journey would be over. Or maybe they’d be indie snobs and condescendingly inform me that we no longer use the term “alternative” to describe music.
P.S. Thank you guys for all the wonderful music. Musically, you’ve been a breath of fresh air and nothing short of inspiring.
Did something a bit different. It is a lyric sheet I imagined in my head.
I really, truely tried to give you something worth your time
Any response will make the entire thing worth it.
I promise you will enjoy
All original compositions
Iâm Going Away (Lyric sheet leak!)
Tracks 1 and 2 reversed
02. Drive to Dallas (Florida Edition)
Was what I saw
sitting in encounter
you in Tampa
between bird cries: wheels of
broken big wheels â hair silly
string and sad string?
Was what I saw
sitting in Kenosha.
north bound children
with no hope for encounter?
Through milk dishes, fishing line
and generous summer storms
Tampa rains over
trash: space we generously called
while passive driveways are plowed
and strange American boys sweat
their fatherâs sift the sea
and âgood sea womenâ
01. I’m Going Away (What God Looks Like.)
Jack and Jill forever
on the table you eat breakfast
morning after morning
and if you just
run your hands over the
you’ll notice symmetry
both J’s possess equal
and you’ll think-
such a pretty morning
ruined by the all this pollen
pollen that gets in the crevices
fills the trenches like
exposed by a tendency
to huddle in fear
beautiful creation both
warm and allergic
and you’ll miss the point:
and grow angry nothing fits
that everything must be eyed out
that educated guess is your only recourse
not noticing the comfortable angles
left by his hand
an admirably steady hand
for a vandal
03 The End Is Near
our morning was more
-a canary cave test
-a mimicking parrot
with little fear of
should we – in time – fit it in?
thatâs why we summer: for summerâs sake,
for the empire,
for the people,
for the glory of this dawn:
and when you get your ass
workside â boss man tell you how
pretty young wives: dew feeted
what a caveman! he is
over dinner: steak tartar
while ancient neighbors
send static signals in
what a hole! their TV,
these thin walls
youâd rather paint the evening
red: for time
green: for space
yellow: for canaries
grateful deep dark swallows,
04 Charmaine Champagne (For Patrick Swayze)
The Point that Baby Breaks,
Babyâs first words were live my life: you wanted to eat
on the meat side of the table and live under the tomato plants
Conservation demanded our integrity while we:
boorish and unkempt, straddled work and charity
Our best intentions crook under our worst faces
our summer parties reek of cheap shots at the winterâs air.
Her motivation: little Baby wishes her pen pal out of
Anbar; writes with determined knuckles swelled at the thought
of war, and when will mom stop serving those animals finger foods:
concessions to women who clean faces with hand soap containing the smallest
hint of human blood, hint of whatâs to come, dirty rumors washed with
discussions of me, for once: I, as entity living in a confined space – I, as
host to problems of increased governmental leaning â How we can afford
a language school? Is it important for Baby to learn French?
to grow with grace and still manage meat from the bone â finding substantive ways to say
Dieu n’est pas dans les details. Les dĂ©tails sont dans Dieu
And does baby mix up? Does baby lack proper translation for the job? The orders? What forks stab at What concerns us is Baby has been saying nobody puts her in a corner:
she has found American video and sweaty men â she has danced with American buffets full of choices: the fish looks palatable: the desert looks unsalvageable- what now?
Where Toledo was made saccharine by song; wishing wells,
good to see youâs, letâs get togethers for a small portrait,
ghosts that live in fall-out shelters on the shores of lake Lake Pontchartrain
Danny got his drunk-on up in Montreal with fighters: glass-jawed beasts,
targets of the census â we moved westward, our eyes sewed shut like test tube
babies who will learn how to dance one; snuck looks at the Tetons: cosmic laugh
angles cut by parallel weekends: back and forth from rise to run â baby who will
learn how to die, haunt us with summer stock, dinner theater, WASPy nests of clay
-amber preserving the memory of her father in a room that breathed underwater
fishing poles, fishing nets, bottled ships, Worldâs Greatest Dad plague(s) under
the teeth of old men: fedora armies, minds set on children who would find a way
home to stoops of Brooklyn, hand in hand for Christmas dinner: amber encased rooms,
shrines to ghosts that live in kitchens, that donât want to go to bed; please, please
one more hour
road side bomb houses,
Yet they are an angry pride of eagles, well-wishing the sky away with thoughts
of home – and Baby who has taken a new lover: the suited, successful type.
Her net of rhetorical stickery: Blue: the populace as welcome host/holy host; country with greeting banners of gun muzzles and hemlock for afternoon coffee eager think-tanks
We always thought you bigger â thought you able to pick out grains from the dunes.
Instead we’re sold foaming history that skips hearts with shape-charged chest caves:
see-through pupils weaned on the beckoning paradise of repressed sex concerns,
static electric screens that crack and snap at ingrained sword and sandal faith
Patrick Swayze admires a desert sunset through the crosshairs Discoveryâs newest weapons import – says original programming used to be about the dialogue of war:
the decent things men say to preserve an empire â now left to large scale bar room brawls where anyone hits anyone and the Rotary Club savages the prisoners for road side clean up rights
For customs: you tip the tender that serves you poison, you watch for signs of over saturation, you talk strong men out of overplaying their hand â discourage back room sleaze fucking
Frances Houseman will wait for you in the Catskills â she is having the time of her life.
She takes traditional Jewish levelers to bed under a blanket of mountain air â she dreams
of unknown war â of âgloves onâ duel custom â of presidents unafraid to take a bullet
while you dance and surf and fight under cover of Godâs original sky mold: decaying
tape that turns eager, romantic gestures into violent subjugation: too much, too much
rewinding of a pleasant memory â or constant rental of what is not ours: borrowed
America itâs time to come home for dinner – time we talked about movies like they were
important â time to forgo the blood beat of the war dance for popcorn and sore wisdom
Baby prays for rebirth in placeholder beds of cowards; prays for absent men who would
bring back proximity threats that pulsate in sun-dressed groins: deep rich throbs,
heartsick wants to soundtrack the earth
and ultimately questions the sincerity of her leading man.
as if he said secret in muted tones of
grey, as if you wanted his name to be
soft â or sacred. as if you worried his midnight
be crows feet clicking on the edge of the Catskills
baby remains dumbfounded about punishment
heaped on organisms devoid of brains
in cell form
05 Cut the Cake
little boxes of blood
for my birthday,
just a little something
just a little something for you:
box of blood
for your birthday
-you said, a box of blood:
just a little
thoughtful -you said,
brought you: little
boxes full of
blood -you said,
birthdays or (something I picked
up) anyways, oh maybe just
a small thing really:
boxes of blood,
little boxes: just blood
for a birthday
small: your hearts,
insides, boxes of blood
for your birthday -you said
small: blood, hearts, boxes:
no big thing
06. Even in the Rain
Candy Cones experienced a brief renaissance in Candy Land
an oddity of architectural taste: finicky and old-cat guarded
Cones eye-dotted by the predicable phases of a comfortable moon
or garden position: curved back proximity to generous crop yields
ascetics put to council by the wise: gingerbread
men, lolly girls, dark skinned chocolate that defied
definition; a choice to live without a map â who
does and does not possess a
milky white center
to working class bungalow men who mistake genius for candy corn
to hippy dippy dots who want art to point at the sky
and children who were taught to turn away from all things round
to age – suspicious of cyclical nonsense
because mocking the earth shapes is just a manly way of saying
youâre so sweet!
still these cones are everywhere and theyâre not going anywhere
and you used to drive the midnight like it was the face of the moon
used to champion freedom songs to the girls curled up in back seats
skin-stuck to the sweat of black leather
when we were young!
Charlie, we were young!
Anyway, Iâm eating dinner and
Bensonâs wasting my time with the Easter Sack
saying, âbundle of joy, bundle of dirty joy.â
as I try to choke down this consommĂ© to be polite
and our conversation tends towards-
the cum slips on an otherwise hushed Easter Island, a falling in Quito,
Dade County pick pocketing with two bad hands in your pants
he defines art as-
5 different ways to say
1. the world is hard like a âŠ
2. the shape of the world makes you hard as aâŠ
3. weâre stuck between aâŠ
4. oh whatâs become of this landingâŠ
5. in cold rooms of artificially pumped heat where youâŠ
back and forth transcribe his face on the dry-wall of your stuffed heart,
beat out instinctive rhythms learned in Modern University:
a bog-side cabin abandoned for fishing holidays, abandoned
for the pursuit of minutiae, abandoned because (is it father?)
holy or domestic
I have seen Charlie O in Lake Lackawanna huddling under unknown shades
I have seen Charlie O in Naples resisting the Old Italian ways
I have seen Charlie eat shit for our Republic in Easter suits of muted grays
Art is transformative â Death is in finite
in Charlie Oâs case
now he is Death Idea â
now floats to the surface like spring lilies:
Million Star gypsophila: white on bog water,
dressings to cover the murk
art is to pluck small flowers from gack! wretch!
fingertips: as deep as one wills oneâs self to go
playing it safe until you recognize Charlie O under your fingernails
until you realize the smell is indescribable
And anyway, Iâm eating dinner and
Bensonâs asking me to wash my hands
saying âbundle of nerves, twenty-eight death-cusp bundle of nervesâ
and he reminds me that life mimics-
Charlie O in moon boots:
boyish conquer of ancient Maine, twist inventor
of go-on forever endings, the resurrection of cool
landings upon landings
Charlie Oâs statue studied by the boys left behind: the go-overboards
Hag psychics tuning radios for comfortable Spring sounds:
the sound of the moderate sun
the sound of a levelheaded breeze
the sound of friendship off mute
Charlie O as forever painting of Chucky Osmond
who (if you believe a stand-up guy like Benson)
skulled-screwed deathâs brains out
hate fucked for fertile eggs
lost in woods of sightless crickets and
just the ground
just the quiet simple ground they give you
in songs of old-fashioned faith
reverent bed-warm covering of mildew
buoyant naps of Christian Grace
…so I finally looked at Charlie O
through rain on top of Stanhope lakes
both seed and sky to mute again
these charcoal plains, this gravel wind
where Charlie fished on grave design
and lust now hushed in muscle give
not long for boy – for boyish risk
of half-drunk mourning’s half-drunk sick
-because when you died Chucky, Chris and I did this silly thing: this thing where we let all your fish out into Lake Musconetcong – which seemed to be a good idea at the time; seemed to be especially poetic for two college kids who were, for fuck sake, 22. just like you – remember? – but they were saltwater fish you asshole – and you didnât tell us cause why would we ever need to know? â isnât that right? what possible reason would we ever have to know such thingsâŠ
07 Staring at the Steeple
(the last recorded incident of Rubik’s cube sticker removal as a means to an end primarily as a result of changing policies regarding horse glue by the good people of Ideal Toys)
Matt Torrance or Vance (don’t ask, I don’t know)
lived until he died.
Not remarkably, not unremarkably
which I suppose leaves us with
common flashes of brilliance
but it wasn’t until I was approached
by Vance’s mother that I got the idea to write
she said Vance had wanted me to go to my
ten year high school reunion and tell that joke I always tell
about the man in the supermarket who
out of nowhere
meets a woman who saysâŠ
(well it’s not a very good joke and Vance’s mother
has just experienced a significant loss so
I won’t tell it)
anyway I met Vance’s mother in a supermarket
and she told me to go to my high school reunion
and we didn’t comment on the irony
except to say I’d seen Vance
at my last high school reunion
5 year reunion I said
too soon she said
with no qualms about what she really meant
and Vance’s mother meets this guy in a supermarket
and says that there’s this joke that he has to tell about this guy and a horse
and it will resonate with others because Vance
even though we both knew he had thought about horses as much as he didn’t think about horses
which leaves us with:
a guy walks into a supermarket and meets a woman who hates jokes except this one joke about
a guy and a horse who breaks a leg too soon
being that the horse had an outside chance at immortality
a fact that, be it true or untrue
is now irrefutable
a horse crippled at its peak
and more so
two people walk into a supermarket
each with his/her own idea of the value of jokes
especially humor in the face of grief
and the woman says to the man
tell the joke that Vance liked and make these people
ten years older now
make them laugh with the joke you tell
but I tell her that the joke doesn’t have a horse in it
I tell her (and god forgive me) the joke involves:
a man sees a beautiful blond woman in a supermarket and
the woman tells the man that she has one of his kids
and the man searches his brain sure that he would remember such a beautiful woman
and finally the man says
hey I remember now
you’re the stripper I fucked on the pool table while your sister spanked me with a bamboo shoot
and the woman says
no, I’m his math teacher
and these two people trapped in the purgatory
of a supermarket
a place where all people go in times of death
during mundane afternoons
laugh at the punch line
the punch line that doesn’t involve horses
for some reason
a lack of horses
and there’s this one about a mother
who lost a son to cancer
who tells this joke about a stripper
and a man with a penchant for light S&M
everywhere she goes
which relieves the preacher
who wanted to laugh
who wanted to laugh
08 Ray Bouvier
this girl from the Art school
offered to break down the gentle technique
of Jim Henson
who, she said
long appreciated by pop-culture
was criminally overlooked by the speed trap of
being that her eyes matched her shoes
and her hair was incredibly well kept despite
what you would expect
I agreed commenting that
“Miss Piggy was sort of a bitch but in a
take no shit kind of way.”
and she just waved her hand dismissively so as to demonstrate
I was unknowingly championing an idea
formally espoused by the lying cheating bitch professor
who taught her love if nothing else
“it’s not about Jim’s love of frogs”
she said with a flick of her post-ironic,
fiberglass filled Newport
a habit she had picked up from her homeboys during that precious
“NO! it’s Jim’s ability to choose the immortal over the
truly important. It’s his comfort with never being conventionally derivative in that
warehouse your life in Amsterdam type, drugs make this a greater experience, not to mention the ghostly specter of Anne Frank way.”
and I knew who he was
so I tried to work that into the conversation till we circumnavigated my
sexual advances and wondered why,
“Jim didn’t simply take his enormous talent and speak on the subject of death considering death is always casting a shadow on our lives, and even if Jim, maybe, knew that his death would come by means of some freak accident flu type disaster”
but all I could think was how there had to be times in her life
where she was completely vulnerable and not fixated on the rhetoric
So I asked her what scared her and got-
09 Keep Me in the Dark (feat. Danger Mouse)
I see, says the field-mousey
we eat the cheesy-snack
in the trap and become
IâŠ no, says the house-mousey
we eat the farmers-flowers
with the pesty-sides and become
I prey, says the glow-mousey
we eat the bodily-bloody
with the a-mice and a-men and become
I: cleaver, says the church-mousey
we eat the fishy-dishy on Friday
in observance become
I: poor sicky, says the sick-mousey
we eat the medi-sides
with the side-effects and become
I: king-fish, says the pet-mousey
we know queens, just funny-facey
with food from tube become
I: Danger-Mousey am British-Mousey
and I used to watch that episode where Penfold gets excited over green-lolli
every time mum would cook me lasagna because green-lolli is garbledy-eeeeeek!
and lasagna is so creamy-dreamy
10. Lost At Sea
confessed to an old Navy Head
heavy fur – sure
mixed up with actual listening
and chewed louder when he
told me the reality of maritime
maybe it was the tinder sticks
the breakfast corn dogs
the measurable morning
of public nutrition
or dare I say:
able bodied men â sea lipped harbor rats
rib cage cells full of unfrozen
and this: old head
sucking sustenance from land-locked
the ships sail in
the ships cry out:
we navigate for western taste
to eastern blocs of healthy waste
with turncoats hung in hearty haste
for storm and sun decked
halls of holly
with nocturnal eyes
of midnight folly
we taste, we taste
our bloody revenge
and I, plus head
canopied comforts in Captains Quarters
thoughts of how:
I played video games and I was happy
when I was young that is, that is
walked across the country when I was old
and in California learned Cowboy Music from an actor
to transfer the events of a day
11:00 Saved the world
but it seems to me that my thoughts should cohere
with each passing year
yet they come apart
and poke holes in my heart
like a jellyfish
with a death wish
fight, goddamn it!
I’ve been living in the sea too long.
11 Cups and Punches
Everyone should be lucky enough to have a comedian
write a living will for them
and everyone should kiss on sheets washed by someone who loves them
âOh, look at the timeâ
weâd have the deadline
and weâll be just fine, just fineâ
maybe thereâs some sense
maybe thereâs just worldly comeupance
maybe theirâs is a dream, dreamed in defense
this is the all we have
and the trouble is that youâve let me down
stayed in bed twenty minutes passed this clock
and Iâm comfortable
12 Take Me Round Again (small reflecting surfaces variously angled and shaped)
Billy Bale believes Sara Stewart is seeing another man, and that’s not what really bothers him ‘cept for the fact that Frankie Fontana keeps bringing it up to
Sara Stewart loves Billy Bale but can’t get past the
fact that he spends so much time with his sailing
partner Kathryn Katona, and besides she’s heard from Frankie Fontana that Jason Johnson’s been covering for him
Kathryn Katona loves Billy Bale as well but can’t get a straight answer so she’s been sleeping with Jason Johnson who’s not at all good in bed.
Jason Johnson loves Captain Crunch and blond haired boys which he keeps a secret from Frankie Fontana who is, in fact, blond haired.
Frankie Fontana doesn’t love anyone but wants to
share a bed with Sara Stewart which is exactly why he told her the story about Billy Bale and Kathryn Katona.
He is not sure if this is true.
Andrew Anderson is the bartender who serves them
drinks on varying days of the week.
He’s writing a book about how the world is boring.
Kate Kennon is Kathryn Katona’s hairdresser. She’s
heard of Kathryn Katona’s heartbreak and
She too loves Billy Bale.
Billy Bale loves Kate Kennon because she is Italian,
physically fit, and moans passionately.
Beyond that, he sees no future.
Bowie Bale is Billy Bale’s dog although Billy Bale
has never referred to him in this way because allowing your dog to inherit your last name is stupid.
Roy Rogers is hired help on Billy Bale’s ship. He
wishes he was rich.
And yes, he’s heard that joke before
Billy Bale calls his ship the Mary Martin after the
only woman he’s truly loved. The boat’s name makes Kathryn Katona angry and Sara Stewart sad. Mary Martin died in an auto accident with Krispy Kreme delivery truck.
Mary Martin’s father Max Martin has predictably ceased eating at Krispy Kreme but occasionally, and with much regret, stops at Dunkin Donuts on his way to work at the processing plant.
David Dinkins is the former mayor of New York but this matters little to Billy Bale, Bowie Bale, Sara Stewart, Kate Kennon, Kathryn Katona, Frankie Fontana, Jason Johnson, Andrew Anderson, Roy Rodgers, or Max Martin.
They live in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.
Mary Martin lived for a time in New York and voted for David Dinkins but never mentioned it to Billy Bale.
It just hadn’t come up.
So, moving forward:
Billy Bale proposes to Sara Stewart – not out of love, but simply to keep her out of the clutches of another man.
He will later learn pride is predictably problematic.
Bowie Bale is placed in an animal shelter due to Sara Stewart’s aversion to dogs. He is rescued from a death sentence and given the new name Bowie Barker.
He is promptly spade and neutered.
Kathryn Katona, stricken with an unimaginable grief, is driven into the arms of her hairdresser Kate
Kennon. When news of this development reaches Billy Bale he throws himself in front of a Krispy Kreme truck but is not killed.
Billy Bale stops believing in a greater good.
Billy Bale becomes an existentialist and starts
composing publishable poetry that is greatly admired by women who find that sort of thing admirable.
Sara Stewart trapped in a loveless lie of a marriage
and tired of waiting for a Krispy Kreme truck, throws herself in front of a transit train which has no ability to suddenly stop.
She is killed instantly.
Billy Bale realizing that he truly loved Sara Stewart
changes his boat’s name to honor her memory. He
writes a book and titles it Sara Sails South.
It is ultimately underwhelming.
Jason Johnson confesses his love to Frankie Fontana.
It goes nowhere.
Max Martin is awarded a multi-million dollar
settlement from the Krispy Kreme Company and gives it all to Roy Rodgers who works weekends as a gardener at his house.
Roy Rodgers faith in god is restored. He immediately changes his name to Kenny.
He does this before buying a television.
Kenny Rodgers faith in god is shaken.
He becomes a great admirer of Billy Bale’s early work.
David Dinkins is hardly remembered for anything beyond being African American.
Jesse Jackson believes it to be a missed opportunity.
Andrew Anderson’s book stalls when he finds out the world isn’t really boring.
He moves away from Pittsburgh.
Having given rise to wows and woeful whinges alike in their thus-far short but never-far-from-brilliant Career in Music, those flamboyantly frazzled Friedbergers, masters of the unmasterable, denizens of the divine, return with the brand new “I’m Going Away” – so brand new, it’s not even released for another 2 1/2 months! Whatever one might have expected from the daring duo ought to be left behind, jettisoned, buried and put to rest, because this record is unlike anything any of us have (n)ever heard.
Putting Fleetwood Mac to shame, the record opens with the unmistakable sound of the second-chair trombone player in a full student orchestra forgetting his notes and improvising a complex series of diminished arpeggi while his confused compatriots continue with “In the Mood,” despite the mood having shifted greatly (as would be expected.)
But just seconds after the listener starts to appreciate the harmonic-symphonic tension, the rug is ripped out from under our feet with a heretofore unforeseen shift into what can perhaps most precisely be called a lo-fi gypsy cut-time ragtime waltz, sung by Eleanor in a disconcerting stutter into what sounds like a full can of sweet potatoes.
Things only get zanier from there, folks. “Even in the Rain” careens along to the tempo of an odd-beat storm of splash cymbals, while “The End is Near” takes the Friedberger’s experimentation with reversed vocals/guitars to a new height, as they play the entire song forward and backwards simultaneously and somehow still to make it sound simpler than “Louie, Louie,” saucier than “Lola,” and snakier than anything by Slash. Finally, “Take Me Round Again” somehow manages the incredible feat of accurately and concisely relating the entire history of the indigenous people of the West Indies with only a saucepan and a detuned banjo.
Don’t let this one slip through your fingers, folks.
Our rating: nine out of five stars
- B. Ables
“Dogs”. That is the first and last word heard on the new Fiery Furnaces album, I’m Going Away. What was first conceived as an album to play near pregnant women’s stomachs to teach developing fetuses geography evolved into a concept album about the story of a journey – we do not know exactly where from or to, but we do know it involves a ride in a smelly van called “The Moon Machine” with a mysterious figure referred to only as “Pops”. Musically, the Furnaces have expanded their sound, drawing on inspirations as diverse as Catherine Wheel and the Jingle Cats. Their eclectic tastes are reflected in the creative instrumentation that characterizes each track chronicling the way that the journey can affect the individual. We can all identify with the theme of I’m Going Away, be it literally or figuratively, and the new album will leave us singing right along with the passionate refrain, “Is there anything left for me here? / Matt Friedberger needs a freakin beer.”
Should we cling to those around us? Or do we release them into the unknown, somehow trusting in their safe return? The Fiery Furnaces teach us that leaving does not mean leaving forever, and that the anticipation of return eclipses our longing for the departed. For “I’m Going Away”, the Fiery Furnaces newest full-length album, the band actually did go away, recording each track on a unique world location. Each of the first seven tracks were recorded on the seven different continents, with the last five recorded recorded on board boats (or a raft for â Lost At Seaâ) on the five world oceans (Indian, Arctic, Southern, Pacific, and Atlantic, respectively). The band even recruited local musicians from each city or nearest seaport to help with the tracks, creating an album that connects humans and music in a way never before attempted.
In the first track, “I’m Going Away” (recorded in the Fiery Furnaces’ hometown of Brooklyn) drums slowly build to a climatic crescendo, a synthesizer symphony plays sweetly, as if oblivious to the building anxiety. After the drums build and release, a single French horn sounds, signaling the departure of the voyage. Eleanor Friedberger begins to softly croon a story of feeling trapped and withdrawn, desperately needing to escape a gritty landscape and untrustworthy lovers. She explains, “I’m going away/ to a faraway place/ where the winds will blow/ my heart out from below.” Immediately following this moment of self-confession, an explosion of sound bytes and skittery guitars envelop Eleanor’s story. As if fleeing the comfortable chaos of city life, the opening track leads seamlessly into âDrive to Dallasâ where the electronic pandemonium is halted by the calming purity of a Spanish guitar. Recorded in Rio de Janeiro, this rousing samba number features Portuguese immigrants singing “Cidade Maravilhosa” (meaning “marvelous city”), the official song of Rio de Janeiro as Eleanor speak-sings the story of French pirates and buccaneers who plundered the city for centuries. History and storytelling dominate the album; each song describes a tale of heartache or violence. âCut the Cakeâ retells Mary Antoinetteâs biography from âThat rosy-cheeked girl/ Her curls would unfurlâ to âDidnât give us bread/ so we got her headâ, the title of the track referring to her infamous quote regarding the thousands of starving French citizens: âLet them eat cakeâ. âRay Bouvierâ introduces the first song-at-sea, a rollicking, swashbuckling hymn featuring Matthew Friedbergerâs sitar virtuosity as Eleanor sings about monsoon devastation and curry chicken. The album ends with intense sentimentality, as we dread the ultimate return to what we already know. But instead of resigning back to our humdrum lives, âTake Me Round Againâ suggests that we take our loved ones with us on another voyage; the infinitude of possibility just out there, waiting.
p.s. can’t wait for the album!
- Jayne Ziemba
The Fiery Furnaces
I’m Going Away
Unlike other ‘pre-album direction shift hype’ (cough cough, The Eels “polka record” Shootenanny), the Fiery Furnaces’ self proclaimed “dance record” is a reality. It’s here, and it will make you boogie all night. However, the neighbors will be guessing where the waltz grooves went.
‘I’m Going Away’ is the biggest departure for the band yet. The instrumentation we’re used to is in-tact, but the progressive stop-and-goes have been replaced with dance-hall 4 over 4’s. There’s plenty of 808’s too (the hero on this disc). Not since 2003’s ‘Gallowsbird’s Bark’ have the Fiery Furnaces been so straightforward and rhythmic. The melodies don’t dance around the time signatures, they’re having tequila on the beach. But be warned – you won’t be dancing the salsa to this one. Rather, the kids down the hall (the ones with the NIN posters) might join you in a head banging romp. Thank goodness for the brilliant vinyl edition packaging, equipped with lightsticks and sparkley streamers – adding some whimsy to your mosh pit.
There are less lyrics, Eleanor’s staying true to form, repeating chorsuses like it’s out of style. The record is filled with cautionary fables about dancing on volcanoes, job hunting, and ‘…nodes stuck trough your ribs’.
FF are in the 90’s, and Tony Wilson is listening. Jump around and lift your skinny light sticks to the ceiling, you might add some back-beat to the most fun you’ll have this year.
- Enzo Palermo, May 7th, 2009
Each FF album has always created a strong geo-temporal feel for me when I listen to them. For Blueberry Boat, it was smalltown 90’s America, Bitter Tea is definitely colonial southeast Asia and Widow City is expat in Morocco/Egypt circa 2000. I’m Going Away is no different.
From the beginning there’s a strong 10th century Hildegard Von Bigen vibe with wavering and echoey synths that break into full baroque compositions like a student that fell asleep listening to a “appreciating music throughout the ages” CD and this is what she dreamed. I’m Going Away sounds very liturgical at times, but breaks away to more modern/pop compositions that sound like Philip Glass and Michael Jackson spent 4 months in a French chateau recording some tracks together. As far as lyrics go, there’s a loose narrative of a 17th century night-watchman’s strange night when he hallucinate’s from urban sewer vapors. I’m Going Away is absolutely fantastic!
Iâm Going Away” is the Fiery Furnacesâ final album. A good-bye letter
to fans that doubles as a concept album about the apocalypse. This is
the Friedberger’s darkest album to date. On “The End is Near” they
sing of the end of days, the destruction of Earth, and the beginning
of Eternity. It’s aggressive double-bass drum attack and four minute
guitar solo easily makes it their most metal song to date. “Lost at
Sea” details the protagonist’s futile attempts to escape judgment by
taking off in a small raft across the Atlantic. The song climaxes with
a four part harmony unlike anything heard from the furnaces in the
past. “Take Me Round Again” features a fifty piece orchestra, another
departure for the group. The piece is also their longest to date,
clocking in at nearly twenty minutes, and culminates in an intrense
conclusion worthy of “A Day in the Life.” This record may be the
band’s most eclectic to date. Heck they even throw in a bossa nova
tune. Definitely recommended. Possibly the album of the year. Or
I’m particularly taken by how the new Fiery Furnaces record has tempos that are amazingly slow, like that Jimmy Scott record of a few years back. And Eleanor doesn’t so much imitate Jimmy Scott, as channel him and his odd “sounds like a woman almost” voice and delivery. This is especially evident on the cover of “My analyst told me” which has never been longer.
I think that the new Fiery Furnaces disc encompasses Sad Flamenco and Pock Marked Polka, with lyrics that, you know, reallyâspeak to meâ. a lot of it sounds like Blue Lace Gloves Under Seawater
short review of I’m Going Away:
8.6 stars out of 10
The new album from the fiery furnaces is a surprise from start ’til end.
It is the most (and only) straight forward and direct album they have ever made.
In fact it is a krautalbum full of repetetive riffs and steady motorik beats. The swirling arpeggios go in and out like butterflies on a field on a summer’s day. Most of them makes my knees weak. It is a good sign, not a bad.
Say goodbye to shitloads of different parts in the songs (which used to be their speciality).
And say hi and hello to the new album where every song consists of two verses and one chorus and that’s it and then the song fades out.
So, isn’t this new change terribly boring? Well, not if you’re the fiery furnaces. And you’re not. But they are.
The songs works brilliantly because of the great melodic skills and hilarious lyrics.
The title song is based on a traditional. Here the vocals consists of children crying out, laughing out, shouting out the title. Or maybe it’s Matt and Eleanor using a vocal pitcher, hard to say..
Have you heard yo la tengo’s take on Sun Ra’s “Nuclear war” ? It’s a bit like that, only different.
“The end is near” is like a Neu song. Perfect for getting out on the highway. The producer (Jason Loewenstein) is also the producer this time and on this song he freaks out doing the sickest bas-solo I’ve heard in a long time. Why they kept it? Well, you don’t mess with the producer do you?
“Keep me in the dark” is a hit. Sounds like The Ronettes “be my baby” if it was done by david lynch instead.
Beautiful oriental strings on this one and the chorus is perhaps the catchiest and saddest I’ve heard this year (and I’ve heard A LOT)
“Lost at sea” is the fiery furnaces almost losing it. Going Balearic. Sounds like they have recorded this song on Bahamas with martinis in their hands. Steeldrums! Na-na-na choirs! dreamy synth-pads! Cheesy? Yes. Still works? Yes. Really? Yes.
The two final songs are the albums highlight.
“Cups and punches” is a short duet between Eleanor and Matthew. It sounds like they’re getting on eachother’s nerves.
The fuzz-guitars is dubbing what Eleanor is singing and the melodica is dubbing what matthew is singing.
It sounds like no other band on this planet but the fiery furnaces.
The last track “take me round again” is a bit like they are going afro-rock. But in a good way.
The rhythmic guitarplaying is more proof why Matthew should be in every guitar magazine in the near future and the rhythm-section is leading everything to a party. Then Eleanor is doing great call and responses with herself. So, why isn’t this a 10 out of 10 record?
Well, there is a 35 second break between track five and six. For no reasons. Nothing happens. Thirty five seconds of silence! I have enough of silence at home, thank you!
GĂ„r det lĂ„ngsamt? Skaffa dig en snabbare bredbandsuppkoppling.
SĂ¶k och jĂ€mfĂ¶r priser hos Kelkoo.
Remember Mom this Mother’s Day! Find a florist near you now.
Listening to the new Fiery Furnaces album is like looking into the eye of a duck. There is no evidence of this but it is a fact.
A number of animals make appearances on the record, less than a minute into the record we hear Eleanor playing a weasel and Matthew on the Baboon. This reminds of a number of successful bands from the late 21st century that we have yet to hear.
The Welsh influence on this album is not surprising following the extensive recording sessions that took place last year in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. Taking inspiration from the Welsh countryside and long names has made for an interesting tracklisting, Sheep can be heard murmuring in the background on album closer DonaudampfschiffahrtselektrizitĂ€tenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft, a tribute to an Austrian shipping company.
The musical stylings of erroneous cows and large geese from Roath park are littered throughout the record and remind us not to trust creatures that only make sounds in the key of C.
Overall, the record sits together nicely and gives the listener a treat for the ears at every corner (of which there are three)
It’s what we have come to expect from a band who still write songs on tracing paper. Some of this may be true.
It wouldÂŽve been recorded in the deep woods of Finland!!!
TyĂ¶pajankatu 2, rak.7 (2krs.)
Let’s talk about noir. Genre of both film and wine. Because we’re going away; we’re really getting out of here. Drive to the border with a goblet and a smoke machine. Drunk in the dust. Some dessert, the desert, and the slippery sound of the rain bridging the two. We’re already hitched; we’re staring at the church. You’re answer will come soon enough. You can’t keep me in dark or push me into the Gulf of Mexico, my fatale. So shed away the mystery and follow me into the sun. We’ll put out the place mats, turn all the crystal red, and dance her down. Because you’re taking me round again. Round after round after raspberry round.
The Fiery Furnaces take the concept album one step further with their newest effort, ‘I’m Going Away’. Secluding themselves in the sewage pipes of Los Angeles, Matt and Eleanor reveal that they were able to access their true inner beings, away from the bustle of everyday life. “It’s a funny thing, recording with rats around your ankles,” Matt admits with a smile, “brings you down to earth, knowing animals can live like that.”
After weeks with no connection to the outside world, the duo made a great discovery. “We were down there for so long, making music using found objects, we eventually realised that the rat is a being able to perfectly judge the quality of sound,” says Matt Friedberger. “Don’t ask us how,” Eleanor chips in with a giggle, before staring menacingly into my eyes.
With this newfound information, the Friedbergers recorded snippets of vocal noises and tested them on the animals. “They were a bit hard to comprehend at first, but we managed to devise a system whereby they blinked to give us a rating on each extract,” Eleanor explains. “It got to the point where there were so many that we had to start doing the ratings to one decimal place, but we felt this gave us a truly accurate depiction of just how good the noises were.”
This process took 2 months, in which time the search for the missing siblings stopped. However, the media buzz surrounding the two escalated to an unimaginable degree upon their reappearance, leading to prime time TV slots on all the leading networks. Armed with 746 approved extracts, Matt and Eleanor set about piecing them together, with the knowledge that the whole world was waiting for this sewage-pop to drop. The result is 43 minutes of absolute aural bliss. They say opinions on music are purely subjective, but in this case, the rats give it a 10.0.
Crushing pixelated waves of sonic weight twist and spin around Eleanor’s weary voice. Her vocals are mostly made up of lifting moans. Accompanying her are thick, spastic drums that hit the listener deep in the heart and thin and delicate spider-like guitar lines, trickling up and down the song’s atmosphere. At the song’s end digitally manipulated bone-white strings stretch over Eleanor’s voice and smother it and flatten the song’s world into a shimmery ringing singularity. Faintly, the sounds of birds fighting is heard.
“The number eight is quite the symbolic number. This number is ruled by ruthless Saturn. It symbolizes survival, anyalytical, efficient, and controlled personality. And is often intolerant. Eight is also double of Four-the only number to contain the same amount of letters as the number it spells. With all this celestial significance, it’s no wonder that the Fiery Furnaces have created their Eighth studio album I’m Going Away to be just that. As ruthless as Saturn and as intolerant as a controlled personality. In keeping true to the ever-changing sounds that have made us give our souls and become preachers of the Bible of The Fiery Furnaces, the eighth album is a plethora of dramatic highs and lows, featuring a heart-crushing tiny-piano, wah-wah pedals, and the right amount of distortion. On top of all this contains a woman whose topics range from love, lust, loss, lonliness, learning, yearning, and everything in-between. Razor sharp wit and cleverness incorporate everything that is I’m Going Away. Indeed Friedberger and Friedberger are going away-going away to alert the public on the comings and goings of what it means to be human. Bravo and applause is definitely in order, for The Fiery Furnaces still have not lost their motivation, creativity, and genius.”
It appears Holy Ghost Language School has won out. Matthew Friedberger’s 2006 release forms the basis for the new Fiery Furnaces disc I’m Going Away. Eleanor is along for this ride, giving her all in a challenging and rewarding vocal turn as Diamanda Galas doing Edith Piaf as a washerwoman singing polysyllabic chants on the Agean sea shore. The 70s rock of Widow City has transmuted into the terrifying orchestral pieces of Scott Walker’s soundtrack to Pola X. This is ambitious stuff yet the Friedbergers’ have tackled such multi-layed heights before (who didn’t find Blueberry Boat hard to listen to at first, then loved and defended it to the death?) and this is just another grand step towards completing their songbook of life.
The disc is divided down the middle with the first six tracks sending the listener into the convoluted aural jungle. The opening track “I’m Going Away” is simple and unadorned, Matthew’s piano leading Eleanor away from her life into the next track “Drive To Dallas” where the abrupt screeching and screaming hidden underneath the rising strings warns the listener this rabbit hole Eleanor sings down isn’t so friendly after all. What strikes the listen is the disc’s standout track “Ray Bouvier”: Eleanor pleads with a literal “strawman” to give her back the child he promised while Matthew seems to be playing the whole orchestral piece on a carousel, weaving the sounds in and out until complete silence as Eleanor shrieks into the wind with such force that all time stops as she becomes Medea, hanging her children from the strawman’s arms. Scary stuff. The final track “Take Me Round Again” gives Matthew a chance to challenge Sunn O))) in the blackest drone arena as Eleanor’s voice melts away, gone forever. This disc is a grand (but hopefully not final) payment on the promise of the Fiery Furnaces’ earlier excursions into musical conceptualization. Great job and now let’s see what’s behind the Furnaces’ door number 2…
The moment âTake me Round Againâ ends, you canât help to feel that Iâm Going Away is a summation of The Fiery Furnaces career. From the lush experimentation of Blueberry Boat to the harsh arrangements of Bitter Tea, every ingredient on the bandâs discography is explored. There are even a couple of narrative bridges in which you can feel the ghost of Olga Sarantos, from Rehearsing My Choir, lingering in the material. Despite comparisons to previous works, Iâm Going Away manages to feel entirely new. Take for example âCut The Cakeâ which starts like a straightforward minuet and, in Matthew Friedbergerâs hands, turns into a ravenous, latin-spiced cumbia. Or âCharmaine Champagneâ, sung entirely a cappella by Eleanor, with a self-taught Portuguese tape playing in the background. Cool tidbit: âEven In The Rainâ contains a previously unreleased composition by composer Carmine Coppola.
Overall, this is a more than spectacular effort by the Furnaces, with enough nods to previous works to please long time fans; and a new array of poppy hooks to please more casual readers. I will sure download it as soon it leaks and I will go as far as saying that Iâll probably buy it once itâs released.
On first listen to ‘I’m Going Away’, the new album from The Fiery Furnaces, you could be forgiven for thinking that some kind of seductive mechachoid (part alien, part robot, part harpsichord) has beamed down from its trippy home planet and, instead of terrorising the streets in a Godzilla fashion, has decided to pop along to a recording studio. There’s something otherworldly and futuristic about this album. I know Matt and Eleanor Friedberger claim to be of human origin, but the same could be said of Michael Jackson, and we all know that’s not true! Thankfully the Friedberger Planet is a warm and enticing one; surely a planet filled with sugar and honey, but with a hidden layer of marmite underneath (some will love it, some will hate it!). You could call it experimental, you could even call it bizarre, but you definitely couldn’t call it bland! And all hail them for that. The next time I’m planning on going away, I’m going to where the Friedbergers are from (and I don’t mean Illinois, as nice as I’m sure it is). Beam me up!
can you see what the internet has done?
it’s made you think made you act
every preconceived notion you have
fuck it all
everything is anew
listen with your mouth and listen with your hands
listen with your eyes and with your glands
open wide and smile you’ll hear
something so fucked
that has never been so clear
scream scream scream
and spread spread spread
by: Matthew J. Giordano
A definite tentative departure away from the notion of tentative departuring, lambent and nodular in its accessible obfuscation.
Sound! Words! Surprises! Excitement! Enticing hedge funds! Is this the circus or is it a new Fiery Furnaces album? And who’da thunkit?! Could it be a subtle throw back to the MC’s of the late eighties with a musical version of pouring a 40 oz on the cement for those who’ve passed? Is it like your Aunt Bessie taking off her wig and speaking with the low and sultry monotone of your 6th grade math teacher? Wait a second…she is that sixth grade math teacher!
I’m Going Away rings and chimes like a suitcase being packed, except instead of walking out the door in defiance, you put it in the closet. It sounds like the pile of brochures you left at your friend’s house, and although he has already spilled a little steak sauce (not A-1, mind you, but consistent enough not to complain) on them, you can still make out the vacation typeface and the sunglasses. But is this “going away” a vacation? Are we ever coming back? Is Pauly Shore ever making a comeback? Eleanor, Matt, Jason, and Bob clarify with the pitter-patter of heartbeat snares, the hoobah-baloo of warming Wurlitzer, the rang-a-tang of electric guitar, and the slow groove of a bass. They seem to journey a distance not only in the turn of phrases, which invoke almost Kafkaesque transformations; but, almost literally, it feels like Eleanor slowly and carefully backs away from the mic. She keeps it at a distance while Matt slowly steps in. And as the colorful thread of music is pulled and the whole birthday sweater unravels into a pile of fabric, I suddenly try to identify my surroundings. Have I gone away? No, I’m going away.
I’d be excited to hear the guitar strum/finger sounds as if there is a mic up on the guitar neck so that it is mixed pretty close to the actual amp mic so that you hear both equally. I dug that on the first record. However you got that sound. The “my electric guitar was recorded during a 1920’s Ragtime Session” sound.
Bubbles and bouncy keys. Reversed drum cymbals. Minor reversed vocals since the other album achieved that.
Immediate Time/Key changes that either come to an awkward pause/pick up that somehow works tho it comes off on the first listen that it shouldn’t, or that flourishes into the great beyond – either/or both are awesome and inspiring.
More Brother Sister back and forth.
MORE PUNK RAWK ! you’ve got the Jason Loewenstein for a reason right? or is he just the live fill in?
these aren’t questions i want answered, just thinking about them is enough for me.
for some reason i feel like there will be a song about a car, or a reference to a car. in a queen way. maybe a queen & car reference. Man, you guys could totally do a sweet Queen cover. anywho.
stereo fluctuations – rocked out fuzzed guitar that has the 1920’s mix – bubbles and bounces – soft vocals that allow me to hear the lips move – bro and sis back and forth – unexpected time/key changes that flourish – awkward time/key changes that go against the theories of newton? – car/queen references – none of the above – all of the above and more. oh, and electronic drums and dings and whistles and textures. yup. of course. vague enough.
sound good? sounds good
sounds like sounds
A good Fiery Furnaces should contain the following things–a selection
of old classics to warm your cockles by the fireside, some of the
classic pop titles that people always seem to find themselves singing
along to in the pub on Christmas Eve, some carols and a handful of
oddities to keep everyone on their toes.
“I am going away” manages to fulfil all these criteria–on the classic
front there is “I am Going Away” and “Hypo-Audio”, on the classic pop
front there’s “Exclusively Alcolyte”, traditional carols as “Altered
Otherwise” head the field and as far as oddities go, look no further
than the double whammy of “Exhibition Central” and “Coffee drips” (a
pretty tenuous inclusion, especially considering the coffee in the
title is his mums).
All in all, small gripes aside, “I am Going Away” manages to live up
to its name. –Helen Marquis
(just googled best album review ever and tweaked it, thanks amazon…
Listening to the new album from the Fiery Furnaces is an exercise in
long range wondering. Imagine you are a coyote with piano keys for
electric teeth, now imagine you are in that coyote’s mouth, and when
he swallows you down the throat you settle into the tracklist of his
belly. Toots Thieleman is there. Ricky Skaggs has his mouth over a
gnome hat. Marvin Gaye wanders through a moss minetunnel with
steering wheels for eyes and eyebrows for rumdrunk first mates.
They’re all singing into a photograph and this album is the negative
slide that bubbles up out of the dark room tray. Pregnancy is not the
word for I’m Going Away. Let’s give it a population with colons and a
flag. Lazarous species of sampled sounds so ancient we might only
find them in the Fertile Crescent. The band sure makes such a
downright recommendation on the third track. Honestly, The Fiery
Furnaces must write these lyrics under the influence of locusts
because where else have all the crops gone? Sure, when a bird gets
thirsty, he drinks. But when a bird builds a junkboat out of crepe
paper, he’s got to have something to blow the red sail, and the guitar
that sounds practically singed to crisp here will make their tight
wind of song bend the paper planes from their trajectories. We wax
poetic here wearing worsted wool suits instead of clean socks, but
this album has made its into my survival pack, and I can only say the
same for my Inuit harpoon and universal remote.
I’m Going Away is more beautiful than a musical ampersand.
Every moment I spend not listening to it is like a lifetime spent pining for a lover lost at sea.
Dear Fiery Furnaces,
I’m Going Away is an alt-country concept album, with each of the 12 songs dedicated to a different Zodiac sign, beginning with Aries. -Matt Hunziker
Remember the Fiery Furnaces? They had one about a boat, and another one where their grandmother told stories over weird electroacoustic quarter-tone jams. Well, do we have an album for you. It’s called “I’m Going Away,” and it begins with a 35-minute eponymous performance piece. A short and tearful but barely audible conversation is briefly punctuated by a train’s loud whistle. There is a moment of silence, with only the bustle of a train station humming through your speakers. The whistle blows again, and sniffles turn to gasps, which give rise to full-on sobbing. As snot drips down the invisible, nameless face, the wheels start to chug… and don’t stop. For thirty-five minutes. At twenty, though, the Fiery Furnaces kick in, full throttle, and rock completely the fuck out. Think Gil Evans playing a fuzzed-out keytar over a country shuffle. A minute and a half later, mid-measure, the music stops, and the train recedes into the distance casually as voices again begin to fill the space left in its absence. Talk about a weird opener.
From then on, it’s much more standard Furnaces fair. Album standout “The End is Near” finds Eleanor Friedberger summoning her jazziest croon to sing a delicate balance over a double-time backing track, making use of marimba and break drum in almost even helpings. By the last forty seconds, the siblings have whipped themselves into such a frenzy that the gain-hogging electric guitar freakout has no choice but to make some feet tap and some heads nod. Other tracks bring back the duo’s longstanding tradition of whiplash-inducing tonal shifts, as in the eight-minute, “Quay Cur” channeling “Staring at the Steeple,” which seems to be about a railroad hobo with a habit of quoting Kant and a pet parakeet, but as usual, the subject matter is anyone’s guess, even with lyrics sheet in hand.
Elsewhere, the band finds new turf in the slow-burning, krautrocky “Lost at Sea,” the album’s de facto climax. The same sixteen-note bass line cranks through the entire run of the eleven-minute track, but it’s not quite Kraftwerk — by the seventh minute, the build has reached the point where Siamese Dream-era Pumpkins guitars continuously rip a circus-style chromatic run across both speakers and Eleanor is screeching like an ocelot in a bear trap, while Matthew pounds the drums like they attacked his mother and then threw up in her mouth. I know this doesn’t exactly sound great on paper, but cranked while driving down the highway, it’s a rare moment of pure catharsis. Imagine Amesoeurs collaborating with Kevin Shields and a pissed-off harpy, and you’ll have the idea.
The real head-scratcher, however, is the final track, “Take Me Round Again,” which consists solely of a simple, catchy, 32-bar melody played ad nauseam, ending every time with Eleanor cheerily intoning the title. It’s pretty long. I can’t say I’ll listen to that one too many more times, but man, does it stay in your head.
Keep Me in the Dark begins with a steady heartbeat, pounding steadily in front of a single, distorted tone. Three more notes soon bubble up, creating a dissonant, piercing harmony, and for the first time on “I’m Going Away” a sense of dread pervades the Fiery Furnaces otherwise lively repertoire. The tracks titular darkness persists — somewhat predictably — as chromatic lines phase in and out of each ear until, at last, the crashing of live drums signals a bright, open chord, rising above the murk. The Friedberger siblings sing in harmony, launching into one of their most innuendo-laced choruses to date. We soon discover that their journey through the darkness has begun, not in an abstract, tormented headspace, but in the womb, and through the birth canal. They are struggling to break free, together! The drums quicken and build in intensity, bolstered by dense harmonies chanting overlapping pleas from the dark center of it all. Unfortunately, I never heard the grand finale, because with a horror-addled flip of the wrist I had to cast aside my headphones to answer my cell phone.
What can I say about the Fiery Furnaces’ new album I’m Going Away besides I’m going away…because it’s so effing good. That’s right loyal readers, effing! In just twelve tracks, brother/sister duo Matt and El Friedberger channel ancient influences to bring you, the listener, the brightest, freshest piece of album you would ever be able to find. From Frank Sinatra to Fiddler on the Roof to ancient Egyptian dance songs, it’s all there! The opening track starts off with Eleanor whispering the haunted lyrics, “I’m going away/ I’m going today/ I just gotta say/ On belay!” The song then erupts into a monstrous rock climbing song, in which the main character of the album, Johan, is introduced. Oh ya, did I forget to mention this is a concept album!
The story follows our hero Johan as he travels across many mountains, in search of an ancient mason jar, which inside, carries the secret of how to defeat the evil ghoul Moohan. On his journey, Johan fights many beasts, slays a wildebeest, and falls in love with a mysterious woman named Leehan.
Through the span of the album, the Fiery Furnaces break all boundaries of genre. On the second track, “Drive to Dallas,” the Furnaces break into a oldtimey bluegrass style. “The End Is Near” breaks into an eighteen minute emo ballad, where the lead character Johan gets drunk and almost falls off a waterfall. “Ray Bouvier” turns breaks into a Run-DMC style rap song mixed with the intensity of the Shins. The last track on the album, “Take Me Round Again” plays back the enitre album over again, except in Spanish. They do something that has never been done in music before, which I found very refreshing.
Overall the album is pure rock, except for the songs which aren’t rock. It is a must listen and will be studied and baffled over for the next thirteen years.
Kicking off with the title track (a bare-bones, percussion-only version of the traditional “I’m Going Away,”) the new album from the Fiery Furnaces plays on all their strengths they’ve accumulated over the years. As usual, this record sounds different from their previous ones, while still very much being a Furnaces record. In true Furnaces fashion, after the uncharacteristically spare opener, they crash it all back down to earth with the brilliant “Drive to Dallas,” which chronicles a bad dream the character has in which she has her car hijacked in Mexico by an intimidating criminal and is forced to drive him over to Texas. Despite the grim nature of this song, Eleanor and Matthew make it so enjoyable! Matthew’s lushly calculated music (that sounds like a constant battle between acoustic and electric) set against Eleanor’s chipper and slightly deadpan delivery, make this a true gem.
The siblings do not disappoint much on I’M GOING AWAY. They breeze through perfect pop hooks in “Cut the Cake” and “Ray Bouvier;” have elongated experimental passages in songs such as the eight-minute (and cleverly, aptly titled) “The End is Near;” and even tone it down for a couple surprisingly beautiful and tender numbers, such as “Lost at Sea” and “Take Me Round Again.” The latter is a fitting finale. It ends on an off-key note (which is not so off-key for the Friedbergers, if you haven’t noticed), creating a purposely open ended conclusion. It’s kind of like a greatmovie with a sudden, inconclusive ending. You feel there’s more to the story. And as Eleanor sadly and hopefully pleads in the final chorus, “All I remember is that sound of your voice when we met / And I just wish you could take me ’round again,” the music whittles down to halt.
I’M GOING AWAY is a welcomed addition to an already stellar catalog of releases. With Matthew more focused on the arrangements (which are great) and Elearnor writing almost all the lyrics by herself for a change (which are statisfyingly well-written), and with no real stumbles (aside from the slightly R&B-tinged “Keep Me In Dark”), it is probably their best since Blueberry Boat. This band just keeps on growing.
Track Picks: I’m Going Away, Drive to Dallas, Take Me Round Again
Score: 9 out of 10
The record’s volume gradually decreases from beginning to end. It has one song where the backing track is entirely composed of sampled animal noisesâfrogs, whales, birds, that sort of thing. The final (hence quietest) song is also its most intense, describing a battle on a mountaintop or whatever. If you play the record backwards, you hear positive, life-affirming messages. The album takes place in November.
Where shall I begin? This album is the most influential and subatomic collection of songs that I could ever hope to write a review about. Immediately striking is the way in which the Fiery Furnaces (which consists of brother and sister duo Matt and Eleanor Friedberger – don’t I know so much about music?!?!?!) use instruments on this record. And I’m not just talking about guitars, xylophones, bird calls, flapjacks, or fuzz pedals; I think there is actually some singing on here!!! And they sing (oh do they ever!) the most witty lyrics about the Pakistani government, the state of stamp collecting in the US today, how to make a good pot roast, and other tidbits stolen from back issues of Good Housekeeping magazine. Sometimes they even sing while playing instruments to GREAT effect. They call these sound experiements “songs” and there seem to be like 10 or 15 of them here. Maybe more – it’s impossible to tell! The “songs” flow into one another just like Bartok’s 3rd string quartet (I even know about classical music!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) and this is a sign that these kids are on to something big time. Although this album might not have the group dance scene of that one song on Michael Jackson’s “Thiller” (what was that one….) or the brass section of a John Philip Sousa arrangement, this still stands as a pretty solid debut album.
On their new album “I’m Going Away,” The Fiery Furnaces create a glass menagerie of fragile sophisto-pop, and then proceed to shatter it with a baseball bat. The shards on the ground are then collected and glued together into complex sculptural forms, suggesting Rauschenberg mixed with “Tubular Bells.” The ghost of Jeff Lynne also hovers closely over the album, which is quite strange considering that he’s not dead. Overall, “I’m Going Away” marks the point at which The Screamers and Manfred Mann have traded keyboards and text-message each other about the results.
P.S. When are those FF-ers going to admit they swiped “a street called straight” from Renaldo and the Loaf? Inquiring minds want to know…
Brother and sister duo Matthew and Eleanor abandon the trickery of false names and characters and instead sing of a plot line in which they play themselves, on the lam from Robert Lamm, their abusive adoptive father (and yes, the once frontman of Chicago). Swinging sections of brass will be incorporated throughout due to this musical reference. Taking refuge at a smoky piano bar, Matthew keeps the tack piano and rhodes keys nice and hot while Eleanor seduces cash from the locales pockets with sultry song. This income affords them a luxurious lifestyle of gambling with riff raff and sleeping in the bar’s back room. Screeching guitars and rapid fire drums bombast when Robert returns in a drunken rage to claim his chlidren. But Matthew and Eleanor have foreseen his return, and elude his grasp through teleportation, a trick they learned from a local shaman. Content with being atoms, the duo never return to physical form. As a result of this, the physical album, when played all the way through willl vanish from the purachasers player!
“I’m Going Away” opens the album with a flimsy, strummed guitar figure that’s immediately, strikingly overshadowed by Eleanor’s breathy gasp. Suddenly, a rich swell of guitar, drums, and electric piano evokes a grandiosity bringing to mind glam-era Bowie; Eleanor captures his anthemic and melodic delivery, but couples it with a frenzied, grizzled intensity and the gruff, world-weary sensibility of Tom Waits. Magnificent horn solo segues into the next track.
“Drive to Dallas” is a sea shanty in 5/4 time over a bed of tubas and bongos. At the one minute mark, fuzz bass and cartoonish drums enter, and the tempo picks up and steadily increases until an egregious yet tasteful mandolin solo brings it to a close.
“The End is Near” follows, a taut 56 second pop-punk screamer that is the audio equivalent of a burning car rolling down a hill and exploding at the bottom. Recorded on a Walkman?
“Charmaine Champagne” is retro-futuristic lounge number with hard-panned, percolating percussive elements. The Friedberger siblings trade-off vocals, with Matthew — sounding like he’s shouting from down the hallway — finishing Eleanor’s sentences. Catchy!
“Cut the Cake” begins with a boxy, lo-fi guitar figure and soon adds a funky bass line and mariachi horns. Two short, clipped, spoken word verses give way to a never-ending chorus that get lost in a tangle of weird chord changes. Worst song on the album.
“Even in the Rain” is a folky, psychedlic number laden with pregnant pauses and abrupt shifts in tempo. Rich acoustic guitar strums, mellotron, and eerie, Syd Barrett-inspired slide guitar support an appropriately childlike, sing-songy melody.
“Staring at the Steeple,” builds a shimmering, pretty guitar figure over a chugging, four-chord progression. A pretty standard-sounding (if very good) indie rock song until the the vocals enter….backwards. Eventually, the uncanny, alien vocal line settles into a definiable melody and is doubled by intelligible, forward-sounding vocals. Chorus punctuated by gongs and horse hooves (??? could be coconuts, I suppose). The chord progression begins to lose chords one by one, until it’s only a single chord. The bass starts playing scales, the guitar gets noisier, and the whole thing collapses in a heap of arpeggios.
The decidedly Kinksian “Ray Bouvier” jangles pastorally and is partially derailed by an incongruous kazoo chorus. “Keep Me in the Dark,” its companion piece, condenses side two of Abbey Road into a two minute suite, and is an album highlight.
“Lost At Sea” explodes out of your speakers, swords a-flaming. Twin melodicas spin serpentine melodies around a churning, thrashing two-note bass riff. Eleanor is the eye of ther storm, cooing and murmuring sweet lullabies as the maelstorm rages without. First single.
“Cups and Punches” sounds like the band’s attempt to re-write “Tequila.” Love the horns. Third single!
“Take Me Round Again” waltzes the album to a lilting, banjo-fried close.
(Dear Fiery Furnaces, this was fun and I spent entirely too much time on it. Thanks! –Dan)
With their eighth album, I’m Going Away–a wild-eyed musical fable loosely adapted from “Hey Man, Let’s Rap About Soil Conservation”, a 1971 pamphlet distributed by the United States Department of Agriculture–the Fiery Furnaces have created their finest and most uncompromising work to date. A senses-shattering, barrier-breaking collision of musical styles–imagine the Beach Boys, King Tubby and the Art Ensemble of Chicago remaking The Osmonds’ “Crazy Horses”–I’m Going Away is the strongest set of songs yet from the duo of Matthew and Eleanor Friedberger. Ripe with recurrent imagery of shut-ins and sickrooms, the album draws inspiration from hypochondriac diarist Arthur Crew Inman (1895-1963) (excerpts from his work are tantalizingly scattered throughout the songs), as well as from the jigsaw-puzzle-destroying central figure in George Perec’s oulipian novel “Life: A Users Manual” [a.k.a "La Vie mode d'emploi"] (1978). Eleanor Friedberger’s vocals are touchingly fragile portraits of human frailty, nowhere more so than on first single “Cups And Punches,” the lyrics of which are taken from the ingredients list found on a can of Country Time lemonade. (A limited edition 12-inch single features remixes by Madlib, RZA and Ken Nordine.) Matthew Friedberger’s newfound love of the bouzouki informs the album’s sonic palette, along with pivotal guest appearances by Indian violinist L. Shankar (of Shakti and Echo & The Bunnymen fame), smooth-jazz saxophonist Dave Koz and Chicago art-punk legend Skafish. (Unfortunately, the much-anticipated duet between Eleanor and Rod Stewart–they were to have teamed up for a cover of Van Der Graaf Generator’s “Man-Erg”–had to be scrapped due to scheduling difficulties.) Through it all, the Friedbergers’ characteristic attention to formalist detail–all of the songs are in the key of D, which is also the first letter of the first word of each lyric–renders the album a bracing yet lapidary creation; it’s the musical equivalent of constructing an elaborate floral arrangement in the shape of a cryptography textbook while, at the same time, straining to hear the dialogue from an old episode of “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father” as it plays softly in an adjacent room.
it will sound like:
basement bell ringers going down the log-flume in july at the big plastic factory
Mr. Tuttle dry-heeving outside the jokerman dance
stealing a paddleboat on acid
digital dillon’s third book of the trees
a 1981 volvo with a trunk that doesn’t close
This past July I fell in love. It was so sudden, so magical. Suddenly, we wanted to spend all of our time together. It was an innocent time of joy and caring. Now, this being an overly dramatic music column, Iâm naturally making a forced metaphor about an album. That album is Iâm Going Away by The Fiery Furnaces. I remember it clearly: stimulus money in hand, I decided to rush out to my nearest Wal-Mart and pick up the six-time platinum album without having listened to a single note, somehow managing to avoid the nearly ubiquitous media onslaught of Americaâs favorite pop group, known affectionately from coast-to-coast as âThe Fab Friedbergers.â Iâm only disappointed I waited so long to get it. It was love at first sound. It was a glorious time.
The Fiery Furnaces are still bursting at the seams with ideas. The record is so jam-packed with them that it nearly collapses under its own weight. Rather than taper them down to a manageable level and maybe save some for later, the duo goes for broke on their eighth release, a disjointed, Technicolor masterpiece. A synthesis of high-class indie-rock, growling blues and folk, post-punk synth, with a pop sensibility. Layered synths, bluesy guitars, sea chantey organ, autoharp- you name it, drenched with a lyrical innocence- spearheaded by one of the most amiable and flexible singers in the biz- Eleanor Friedberger. Blessed (cursed?) with seemingly infinite ideas and an experimental ethic, The Fiery Furnaces are amazingly able to hold my attention longer than the average band.
Touching piano driven pieces like âDrive to Dallasâ are balanced out with the hyper-pop of âLost at Seaâ and the manic storytelling of âCharmaine Champagne.â Itâs impossible to predict where theyâre going to go next. The Fiery Furnaces are a band for the ADD generation. Each song is made up of movement after movement, stretching far and wide through repeated themes and scene-setting instrumentation. Styles and genres jump willy-nilly: baroque rock, rough blues, experimental indie-pop, and salsa all occurring in a song. Itâs like theyâre challenging you to get bored. But you canât, thereâs just too much going on.
The album is a smash and justly deserves every good word every said about it and about a billion more. I wish I could marry this album; itâs that good. Unfortunately, Iâm already married and last I checked itâs still illegal to marry an inanimate object (those darn conservatives in Washington!) though that wonât stop me from naming my first child Iâm Going Away. And Iâll do it too. Iâm just crazy like that.
The Fiery Furnaces
I’m Going Away
The Fiery Furnaces newest album “I’m Going Away” is nothing what anyone could have expected. Rather than the usual synth based indie rock we have become so accustomed to, they pull a Bowie and completely reinvent themselves. The whole album is such a diverse mix of styles, colors, and genres that I have decided to do a track by track review.
1. “I’m Going Away”- The album’s title track begins with a drawn out electro glitch buzz that begins to hurt the head after the first minute or so, but as soon as you feel it coming to an end you know that things can only get better from here. As soon as the glitch portion fades out, a drum beat kicks in and the Fiery Furnaces present the albums first surprise, a metal song! Matthew Friedberger shows off his guitar chops with Torche inspired guitar licks followed by the heaviest riff since Slayer’s “Raining Blood.” Eleanor Friedberger sings with her usual finesse throughout the track.
2. “Drive to Dallas”- After the brutual beating of the first track, the furnaces decide to slow it down for us a bit. “Down to Dallas” is an electro folk ballad detailing the travels of a family of phytoplankton in search of their creator. The lyrics allow you to relate to these autotrophic organisms, while yet reminding you that they are microscopic. The instrumentation begins with very soft banjo-like synths and eventually overlap to become a dense sound collage including horns, strings, and vocal harmonies before it comes to a climax and finish.
3. “The End Is Near”- This song is the album’s only song that sounds anything like the Fiery Furnaces of old at all. Sounding much like “Tropical Iceland” this track is a dancy whimsical tune. The only difference are the lyrics, rather than fun filled bouncy lyrics, “The End is Near”’s lyrics entail an extremely explicit description of sexual intercourse between two men. The lyrics get so detailed they begin to describe sounds, feels, and tastes. Needless to say, it becomes a bit overwhelming.
4. “Charmaine Champagne”- This is my favorite track on the album, it is an extremely drone-y, ambient song. It sounds alot like some of Animal Collective’s newer work. The overlapping layers of sound and tropicalia become emphasized by Eleanor’s yelps of clever lyrics.
5. “Cut The Cake”- This track begins with lound organs playing “Here Comes the Bride” when all of a sudden it cuts out and in comes a blistering grindcore tune. After about 30 seconds of the locust like beating the chorus takes you away with a very relaxed open feeling, the chorus was definitely inspired by AIR. After the chorus ends it returns right back to the grindcore section and fades out.
6. “Even In The Rain”- This track is the Fiery Furnaces true breakthrough in the art of reinvention. A 7 minute fully orchestrated piece. I don’t want to ruin this one for you so just wait and see how it is. My only warning the lyr”Staring At The Steeple”ics are not for the faint of heart, and YES! Eleanor does say “Put that english muffin in between my legs, mom!”
7. “Staring At The Steeple”- A complete Bee Gee’s inspired disco track about a gambler at the horse races being brutally murdered in a barn. The dance beat and instrumentation make it feel like a cocaine filled club banger, and the lyrics emote a certain brand of disgust that is hidden so well in the dense track.
8. “Ray Bouvier”- This is an extremely fun track. An african tropicalia song taken directly from the pages of the Ruby Suns. The lyrics unfold to describe the tale of Ray Bouvier who is a lonesome man who collects twigs and assembles them into furniture.
9.”Keep Me In Dark”- This track opens up in a sudden drumbeat going into a ska-punk Goldfinger-esque song. With ska guitars and horns ablaze, this song makes you want to get up and skank the night away.
10. “Lost At Sea”- Another electro folk ballad, detailing a man’s withdrawals experienced after he quits smoking clove cigarettes as he sits in the bathtub.
11. “Cups and Punches”- A tip of the hat to Tom Waits here, this one is a full on bar room ballad, only using electronic instrumentation over the typical player piano. The nintendo inspired music meshes so well with Eleanor’s howling mumbled vocals in this track, it is pure heaven.
12. “Take Me Round Again”- A fitting end to an excellent album. The closing track is the equivalent to a Fiery Furnaces “Bohemian Rhapsody”. It begins quiet and goes through several sweeping movements before coming to a climax. It is a song that can make you cry one minute and bang your head like in “Wayne’s World” the next. As the track fades to black, it draws true emotions of nostalgia as you look back at such an amazing album. It brings so many memories to the front of your brain and it makes you just want to flip back to track one and do it all over again.
Eleanor and Matthew burst heroically from a soup of funky soul on a robotic flying horse. Marathons of fizzy skronk, intersected with touching ballads sung to crows.
Since moving to Forest Park, IL from SF, Calif. 2 years agoâŠ.we listened non-stop to Window City with our children, Lincoln and Sadie on many car rides, house cleaning days and bbqs in the backyard. Although we were not such fans of the live recording album that came next (unable to process the depth of a live recording without the visual beauty of the group)âŠwe have been waiting for some new mind blowing music from the Fiery Furnaces.
âIâm going awayâ is organically amazingâŠbut even more it hits us hard with a personal wallop. It leaves us with the full body feeling that going away from california (home) does not equate to âIâm going away from everything good in the worldâ. As modern day breeders of the new millennium we donât suck and we arenât assholes any more or less than the rest of folks out there. We raise our children and strive to create a better place (maybe one that will never exist, but shit itâs worth a try). Iâm going away reinforces our faith in abandoning what we have been raised to believe and away from a comfortable why bother attitude. If a brother and sister can grow up just miles away from where we live now and create something so radical and awesome than everything is going to be okay.
Iâm going away doesnât make the listener ponder the question âwell, where are you going to?â; it makes the listener shout Iâm going away too!
Kimberly J. Scheer
AN ACCURATE DESCRIPTION OF “I’M GOING AWAY” by Seth Nicholas Johnson
I understand that The Fiery Furnaces have made their name by taking chances. MF and EF have never been a stranger to trying something new, then throwing that noodle against the wall and seeing if it will stick. But in the case of their new album, “I’m Going Away”, It’s hard to tell if their new route of experimentation is truly for the sake of progression or if they just ran out of ideas.
Thoughout the writing and recording of “IGA”, the Friedbergers didn’t actually write anything. Every note, every word was decided by chance. The idea began with a simple roll of the dice. While writing the new songs, MF and EF would asign a note to each side of a numbered die and then roll it. They write it down and then asign the note a duration with another die. When Matthew decided that six notes weren’t enough to choose from, Eleanor cracked out her 12 sided die to add a bit more variety. When deciding what instrument to play, Mathew built a Price-is-Right-esque wheel to make the decision for him. And, of course, lyric writing is now a thing of the past. Eleanor simply tore a few favorite books to smithareens and then picked words and phrases out of a hat.
I’m sure that some will call this new direction lazy, or worse yet, uniteresting. Some will use the tired old phrase of “Well, I could have done that”, but the all important fact is that the critic’s didn’t write this album, no one did. But what makes it work are the ever-present elements of The FF present on this album that have kept us all listening throuout the years. It’s as if the entirety of the album is a frosty pale green granny smith apple sitting on a porch in January. And when you bite into it it is dense and brisk and refreshing. Aaaahhh! It is imposible not to love the Fiery Furnaces.
-Seth Nicholas Johnson
Although surprise is a common, if not trademark, element of all new Fiery Furnaces musical output, the new album, “I’m Going Away” is likely the farthest departure of form for the Fiery Furnaces yet. Immediately noticeable is the new-found “quietude” and “cohesion” of the album. Whereas much of Fiery Furnaces previous output is the musical equivalent of an art-school project quilt design, this album is more like a warm blue blanket. Seriously. For the most part, the vocal arrangements and tones are similar to previous outputs in that they are equal parts sung and spoken and rhythmically scattered throughout the songs. But it is the songs themselves that seem far less pastiche than previous work. Most of the tracks appear to adhere to a verse-chorus-verse format for the most part and also stick to very traditional blues and jazz chordal structures. Could this even be the same band? Yes! The topics of the songs are still rooted deeply in historical context and dialect, with characters culled from Shinto mythology as well as Norse, from American Civil War history and even more recent references like the LA race riots from the early 1990s. However, the band relies more on novel electronic soundscapes that capture the narratives in sound, rather than fractured statements that match the pulse of the stories as in songs past. In many parts of the album, one feels as if she is listening like Radiohead’s Kid A on xanax and with a guideboook like clarity to ensure that one’s head stay’s present, rather than lost in the forest of sound. A band like Fiery Furnaces clearly knows that the map is not the territory and that the process is the product. In such a world, true sonic exploration justifies itself. But rather than challenge the listener with a thousand ideas per second, here the band comforts the listener in an inviting, captivating, intriguing and subtle texture of tones.
Some people ride bicycles and other people make birthday cakes. Those same people sometimes listen to records, and those same people sometimes have a mental disorder. If this is you, then you probably found a place for Fiery Furnaces new release of Iâm Going Away.
Iâm going away combines great with truck driving and awesome with shoveling snow. If you actually like the Fiery Furnaces you probably just enjoy things for their irony or emotions they give you, which is ok â it just means youâd rather listen to Black Sabbath than Metallica or Bill Cosby vs. Justin Timberlake. So if you are the aforementioned person you will understand that listening to Iâm Going Away is the same experience of doing nothing at all and playing seventeen game boy games at once (actually probably getting a high score on about three of them in fact).
When youâre a band like The Fiery Furnaces you have a lot to live up to, so what you stop doing is making music, and you start making an experience. The experience of being and dieing, the experience of lying and crying, the experience of playing jump rope when you wanted to play the piano but then being late for your piano lessons. These experience are common to all, and that is what makes the experience of their music universal.
Now you may have gotten caught up with their recent scandal of doing copyrighted material at their DJ sets. Yeah I know it bugs me to, but I mean arenât we all pirates? Let me pre-suppose the idea to you that maybe if you donât live in Somalia and ride a commandeered fishing boat, dialing up to Napster in 1998 on your parents computer puts you in that same proverbial boat. So lock me up and throw away the key, I downloaded a Flo Rida track this morning, and I didnât give Itunes anymore. Weâre all human, and that is the point The Fiery Furnaces are so human it hurts.
If you havenât heard Iâm Going Away then donât worry, you donât really need to hear it, just read Pitchforkâs review when it comes out and talk about it in line for a show, talk about how they needed a 8.3 instead of a 7.2 and how Best New Music should be reserved for innovation not aggravation. If you have actually gotten a chance to listen to this masterpiece then time to rock out with your 12 foot cock out my friend. That being said it is probably important to throw in that listening to Iâm Going Away did actually enhance the size of my penis so big that the next Godzilla movie will be entitled Godzilla vs. My Dick.
Thanks for your time in reading this review, now I need to check out WilcoâWilco (but you wish you had an advance copy to) â actually I just pirated it, peace!
Hi Fiery Furnaces! This “Deaf Descriptions” thing is an awesome, awesome idea. Here is what I was heard when I listened to the new album:
On the new Fiery Furnaces record “I’m Going Away,” the band surprisingly goes in the direction of an epic 80’s pop-rock opus, not unlike the styles of Journey and Styx. “I’m Going Away,” the title track as well as first single, features soaring guitar solos layered on top of each other, all competing to out-rock the unbelievably reverbed vocals of Eleanor Friedberger. The album continues along this path throughout the rest of the tracks, sometimes calming down into sappy, but touching, ballads. Matthew Friedberger pours his heart into the tear-inducing love song “Keep Me in the Dark,” about a lover who just never was as truthful as he deserved. On this track, Matthew’s keys are extra heavy, with the sustain pedal down all the way. The lyrics of “in the Dark” may sound cliche and it’s because they are, but Friedberger is well aware. He amplifies the cliche to become something much more that it ever was before.
In addition to the many references to 80’s glory, the album also features a few guest spots from contemporary artists. Manhattan-based hard rocker/college lecturer/experimental noise artist/nightclub owner Andrew W.K. brings his talents to the track “Cups and Punches,” adding a whole new level of excitement and grandeur. The Furnaces also like to switch it up just a little bit, disregarding the idea of “album cohesion,” and bust out a full-on funk powerhouse in the song “Charmaine Champagne.” The bubbly bassline sparkles and pops along to the beautiful melody sung by Eleanor.
The track “Even in the Rain” is a heartfelt rap song dedicated, once again, to the love of a woman. Matthew spits his rhymes about giving the lady his umbrella, taking her out, and just being a plain ol’ gentleman, “even in the rain.” You can never go wrong with lyrics like these:
“So don’t fret if I seem to get wet/Get set, I’ve been ready ever since we met/But if you jet I won’t let a tear eject/You can bet I’ll be Gone with the Wind like Rhett”
In the end, the album comes full circle with the closing track “Take Me Round Again.” The title is inspired by the two 80’s classics “Take On Me” by A Ha and “Round and Round” by Ratt. The melding of these two pop masterpieces is new territory for the Furnaces, but it is surely nothing they cannot handle. They effortlessly mix synth, loud guitars, outrageous vocals, and absurd melodies together to make, if you will believe it, their most stunningly experimental record yet.
With “I’m Going Away,” The Fiery Furnaces have once again broke new ground and proved that one band cannot be pinned down to a particular style. The Friedberger siblings have shown once again that they are musical geniuses capable of almost anything they want to create. “I’m Going Away” is a brilliant record, one that will inspire fellow 70’s funkers/80’s rocker/90’s rappers for generations to come.
Thanks for this opportunity!
– Robin Brunelle
Hey Fiery Furnaces-
I’m a grad student in American Studies and your choosing to call these descriptions “deaf descriptions” made me think of a paper that one of my classmates is writing. We’re taking a class on race theory and my friend Ian is writing about the deaf community in the 19th century. He’s writing about the oralist movement, of which Alexander Graham Bell was a proponent. I just heard his oral presentation on his research and I haven’t read his paper, so I only remember some of the details.
Basically, the oralist movement wanted to do away with the teaching of deaf students through sign language and instead advocated teaching lip-reading exclusively and insist that deaf people learn to speak. The reason he’s writing about the deaf community in the context of a race theory class is interesting too. Apparently a lot of the rhetoric about deaf people at this time was expressed in racialized terms. Eugenicicts dicsouraged deaf people from marrying and having children for fear that they would create a defective race of people. I’m fascinated by your album title “I’m Going Away.” It made me think of the fact that despite the attempts to eradicate ASL (American Sign Language), it obviously is still around.
Sorry if this is kind of vague. Reading about your request just made me think of this phenomenon. I guess you’re just looking for lyrics, or description of the music. I’ll do some thinking on what I think an album about the oralist movement would sound like and get back to you. Too bad you can’t release an album in sign language.
Thanks for reading. Good luck.
I think it’s going to be a personal album. Like the sound of water getting stuck in your ears. Just try to get it out. It’s impossible. I think it’ll be the perfect summer record for a drive home. windows up, inhibitions down.
i really wanted to write something, but each draft didnt match the thoughts in my mind. I suppose its hard because my mind contains a catalog of sounds and then emotional connections to those sounds, how do you ever write that down?
instead here is a list of things i will pretend the album combines
this feels the most complete way to do it
The works of Calvino
Lisbon city Life
Presentiment of loss
lick, lick, slurp!
The Fiery Furnaces
I’m Going Away
[Thrill Jokey; 2009]
I like all kinds of different cheeses. Kwaito, Testouri, Paneer, Brie de Melun, Swiss, Camembert de Normandie and even Limburger each has its own distinct appeal. But cheese, like many things, is the end product of a series of complicated chemical reactions. It’s fascinating to think that we get such splendid confectionery from the absence of oxygen, the very element that is the cornerstone to our very existence. Without some of the earliest cells adapting to this new element in the atmosphere we would all still be stuck in the primordial muck using the much less efficient (not to mention less cool) glycolysis reaction. This drive to constantly adapt to a changing environment is what made the diverse life we have today possible. It is this same drive for change that propels The Fiery Furnaces to thrilling new artistic heights. On their latest opus the Friedbergers show they are an evolutionary force to be reckoned with.
On I’m Going Away, their third full length on Thrill Jockey, their second not including their gloriously schizophrenic Remember live album, The Fiery Furnaces have created the ultimate road trip album. Taking cues from such luminaries as Hunter S. Thompson, George Plimpton, and to a lesser extent William Faulkner, Eleanor Friedberger finally takes up the mantle of chief lyricist leaving Matthew to tinker away with an even more scrupulous eye to their labyrinthine arrangements. With his newfound freedom Matthew brings some unlikely genre parings like the alt country-slow core-quiet storm feel of “Even In the Rain” to the funeral doom meets afro beat of “The End is Near.” Eleanor follows suit with lyrics just as nonsensical showing sheâs just as much of an auteur of language as her brother.
The album starts out innocently enough with the simple and playful âIâm Going Awayâ in which Eleanor declares âIâm going awayâ to the sounds of muted drums and double bass. The nursery rhyme melody mixed with the translucent electric piano stylings of Mathew are the perfect introduction to lure the listener into their Fiery Furnaverse. After the relatively calm opener they unleash the speaker-destroying pigfuck-freenoise-new primitive blast of âDrive To Dallas.â With a driving kraut rock meets blackened-neo chamber beat they put the pedal to the metal for the rest of the albumâs gargantuan 79 minutes.
Seamlessly jumping from genre to genre has always been the Furnaces MO, but this album has set the bar so high that other urban bohemians will be sent into the streets scrambling to catch up. Luckily there is a breather with the 16-minute, nearly silent, John Cage-aping âKeep me in the Dark.â With this welcome respite from their dizzying genre experiments comes their most direct and heartfelt songs of their career. Listen closely at the 10-minute mark where you can almost hear the sound of Eleanor (or it could be Matthew for that matter) shifting weight in her seat. Rarely do we ever have an artist invite us to write our own song in our imaginations while the band takes a well-deserved breather.
Finishing off the album are a string of three songs that in a perfect world would be top of the pops chart smashing hits. Closing this catchy triforce is the pleasant Kinks meets Coltrane of âTake me Round Again,â where the band invites you to turn off the album when you feel itâs complete. Seriously. On the vinyl version of the album (why would you be buying any other format?) there is a groove that locks onto the last few bars of the song to let them repeat into infinity allowing you to decide when the conclusion is. This is certainly democ rock at its best.
-Bryan Adams, May 7, 2009
the ideology of rock and roll lives in the Fiery Furnaces’ new music…
the F.Furnaces’ new album, ——–, continues the tradition of all rock and roll that has existed since 1955. It carries on with the ‘variation-within-a-structure’ formula, (see Adorno’s Philosophy of Modern Music) and interpellates the listener into the false consciousness of capitalist ideology.
The Furnaces are well known for disobeying the conventions of rock (which by 2009 is another type of convention). They remain, however, bourgeois subjects, making bourgeois art for other bourgeois subjects and thus the ideological function of conventional rock and roll remains intact within their music.
It cannot be defeated by any stylistic trickery, quirky songwriting or flouting of rock and roll tropes. Innovation is impossible.
However, since for us in the West, we find it much easier to imagine complete world annihilation than to imagine a world without capitalism – we might as well enjoy our bourgeois indie rock. Especially when it is so delightfully constructed as by the likes of the Fiery Furnaces.
I’m Going Away
01 I’m Going Away – Such an odd way to start off their seventh album, with an answer song that responds to, borrows the main melody from, and improves upon(!) the classic Styx song, “Come Sail Away.” While the song is missing the inimitable energy of Mr. Dennis DeYoung, it nevertheless trumps the source material with an inventiveness not typically found in Styx-inspired answer records.
02 Drive to Dallas – Not since Gene Clark’s “White Light” has the fusion of country sentiments and rock sensibilities been so seamlessly joined. The song deals squarely with the hard life of truck driver Ricky Brood, who finds himself at the end of a long career on the road, filled only with regrets at life’s opportunity cost. The pedal steel that screams through at 1:47 will bring tears to the eyes of even the most jaded of highwaymen.
03 The End Is Near – This duet with Matthew and Paul Simon is kind of a misfire. It sounds a bit like an outtake from “One-Trick Pony,” with less zest. In all honesty, though, most of the blame should be rested on the phoned-in performance submitted by Paul Simon; dude sounds like he’s recovering from a bad sunburn.
04 Charmaine Champagne – In a Rolling Stone interview with Eleanor, she stated that she had been heavily influenced by Christine Balfa’s “55 Minutes of Solo Triangle.” While a seven-minute song consisting only of the triangle might sound about as enticing as a shark attack, Eleanor’s playing is so intuitive and inspired that it almost seems as though Balfa herself is playing here.
05 Cut the Cake – This is the best song you will hear all year. In fact, this might be the best song ever written and recorded. It makes Paranoid Android sound like it was written by senile octogenarians with limited cognitive abilities. This song will save your marriage and cure your baldness.
06 Even in the Rain – There are few things in music more striking than a soaring vocal. Neko Case knows this. Eleanor knows this as well, and she uses it to great effect on “Even in the Rain.” When her voice rises over the phrase “corn harvest” and the pitch of the pump organ drops, you realize why you got into the band in the first place.
07 Staring at the Steeple – This interlude is a chapter straight out of “Trapped in the Closet,” which makes sense since Kells co-wrote the skit with Matthew. Adrock on cabasa.
08 Ray Bouvier – The only instrumental on the album, “Ray Bouvier” is also the longest song on the album, clocking in at over nine minutes. The song starts out as a drone piece, but turns into a full-tilt disco bonanza the likes of which the brothers Gibb would’ve given their chest hair to write in 1977. You’ll either loathe it or love it. I, for one, love it.
09 Keep Me in the Dark – I think this song is catching on to the auto-tune craze on the wrong side of the arc. Don’t get me wrong, this fairly straightforward rocker is well-written and the harpsichord interlude is a pretty cool idea, but the song would have been better served without Kanye’s crutch.
10 Lost At Sea – These are some of the most caustic lyrics I’ve heard in quite some time. It’s all the more interesting that these words are delivered over what is basically a spoken-word format (save for the presence of a nearly inaudible toy piano in the left channel). I don’t know what Richard Jenkins did to piss the band off.
11 Cups and Punches – I guess an ode to the importance of athletic supporters in youth sports has its place, but a Fiery Furnaces album probably isn’t it.
12 Take Me Round Again – This is what interesting, challenging rock music is supposed to sound like. The song is layered with what sounds like six different pianos that all march in different directions and eventually fall lock-step in line to create one gorgeous cacophony of foreboding and imminent destruction while Steve Perry and Eleanor begin an a capella version of the “Beaks of Eagles” portion of the Beach Boys’ “California Saga,” throughout which they are joined every 30 seconds by a different member of an octet of Bach-era period instruments that themselves march in different directions and eventually fall lock-step in line to create another, more gorgeous syncopated rhythm over which Rickey Henderson flatly says, “Man, that’s just spittin’ in the wind,” shortly after Steve and Eleanor state that “man’s needs and nature are no more changed in fact in ten thousand years than the beaks of eagles.” Striking.
In general: A distant sort of bittersweet sound announcing far off places to investigate. Spies and suspicions aroused! Sounds like a sweet old crunchy candy bit, but when crunched too hard, the sourness oozes out I am sure.
Also: Mountain hollerings! Boats that pull away from shore with things left unsaid and unknown.
1. I’m going away. A declaration to elsewhere, deep space messages….People in hats looking up at a message written in the sky. A fearful declaration of Independence!
2. Drive to Dallas. Warbling voices in the desert heat. Dodging bullets, reading books, conspiracies and crazy kooks…
3. The end is near. The Tunguska blast! Explosive screaming! A true cauterwauling sound! Shrimp and fish are falling from the sky.
4. Charmaine Champagne. The spies can act as sophisticated as they want, but it’s all a ruse, a dreadful ruse….
5. Cut the Cake. Heads will roll, chocolate will mush. Ornate windows will explode. Clipboards clapping as a beat.
6. Even in the rain. Hobos. Lots of hobos and sticks. Thumbs sticking out in the pouring rain. Hypnotic eyes. Lighting over mountains. A message in morse code made by the splattering rain against the roof of an old rusting car in a junkyard.
7. Staring at the Steeple. As the end time approaches, some turn to religion. Steeples are where the people are kept. Mummifed bodies in the crawl-spaces. All wearing pope’s hats. What sort of conspiracy does this point to? If only the hobo had told you before he disappeared in the rain…
8. Ray Bouvier, the suavest spy of them all! Emerging from a dark room, floral designs which seem to crawl like lions, Ray Bouvier, resplendent in his clothing, the king of all Courderoy, certainly he has the answers…
9. Keep me in the dark. There are no answers. Only deep sea fishes. Sparks of sounds, like bio-luminescent fish in the depths of the sea. Flickering, scuttling sounds, like long nails against glass….
10. Lost at sea. Overwhelmed by mystery. The sea holds all the answers. A splashing, wavering sound, one that envelopes the listener like a damp blanket would. Not comforting at all, but beautiful.
11. Cups and Punches. A brawl aboard an old steam ship. The sailors are restless. What do the odd lights in the sky mean?
12. Take me round again. The world spins in its axis like a broken carousel. Up and down the wooden horses go, and so do we, so do we…It ends where it begins…We’re all going away again…on a different journey this time….
I hope you dig these descriptions, and do keep on making excellent, wild music!
even in the rain sounded to me like
the iron man of Prague
on this thursday, clouds long lost their shape,
drizzle covers all the streets
and when the evening thickens,
this city weeps, knows him, loves him
has only the night to share,
only the hours of the moon between the Tyn towers
he has travelled, the iron man of Prague
roads and squares, mountaincabins and sunflowerfields,
every inch of the continent he crossed
in all languages he spoke, every sacred vow he broke
though all that saw him drove him away,
for were he went, even in the rain,
allways in the rain,
he has brought but darkness at the end of the day
So, how about swiss-german-berne-solothurn-langenthal-dialect description for this Deaf LP?
Ig ha so’ne rĂ€gebogefarbigi blatte no nie ghĂ¶Ă¶rt. aber ig gsee zwĂ¶i markannti gsichter. iidrĂŒcklech,, mehrdimensional, vilech ou d’rĂŒcksitte? eigetlech isches mee dr schnittig rand, wo dere schibe es zwĂ¶its gsicht verleiht. Das zwĂ¶ite gsicht, die scharfi rundi kante, isch fĂŒr mii es bĂŒud vo raffinierter herti, unheimlech scharf, aber nid brutaau. jedefaus nid weni’mi richtig drmit usenangersetze.
D’oberflĂ€chi isch seehr abwĂ€chsligsriich, wird fiin und grob, lut und liisli. ganz fĂŒu markanti schtĂ¶ue. meh schdĂŒck? eis schdĂŒck? warschiinlech eis schdĂŒck us fĂŒu schdĂŒck! i ghĂ¶Ă¶re en einheit mit ganz fĂŒu verschidene fassette, chuum Ă¶ppis widerhout sech. d’oberflĂ€chi isch ganz fiin. samtig ligt e haubtransparĂ€nti magii ĂŒber derĂ€ schibe.
All the best,
The Fiery Furnaces decided to take a real sharp left turn on this album. Instead of using “conventional instruments” the duo (now one hundred and four piece) has decided to fill their new record, I’m Going Away, with recordings of over two thousand parrots trained to yell obscenities at high frequencies. Stand out tracks include “You Sticking Jack Ass” and “Fuck Fuck Squawk Fuck”, but really, its just parrots yelling. I mean, what is this? Why would you make this album?
-Stuart Solomon, New York City
…like throwing almonds at tribal drums while riding waves of surf guitar. The vocals veer off in strange directions as if a hobo had just wandered into the studio and decided to take up the lead. Each song is pregnant with equal amounts of sexual tension and weird sexual apprehension… like a female gibbon in heat.
The new Fiery Furnaces’ album is so bad it reminded me of something that I’ve been trying to get done. I built a time machine, traveled to 2006, and walked out of their concert again, but this time, I went back stage and asked for my money back.
dear matthew and eleanor,
let the skies rain down. let the seas open up and spew forth. let the ground crumble beneath your feet, unearthing the new and life changing “im going away.” when i first set eyes on you, i knew it was a match descending time, space, and dimensions to be named later. eleanor touched my hand by accident once, the same as the stare recieved from matt, months later at the next gig. the dreams of a young man, and his unfufilled wishes to the stars. uncle charlie made a pass at aunt louise, and what came upon us afterwards was the definitive celestial spirit encompassing all thats good and real. the next album will sound real. im going away makes me think of melloncollie, but not the infinite sadness. i hope to hear the lullings of spirits on a journey. im hoping for studio time only at dusk, the terror twilight, and by candlelight. im hoping for matt to sing more. im hoping for less percussion and more drums, electronic or live, no more congas. that guy was good at what he did, but it wasnt doing it for me.
im going away now.
love you both like the fam.
youve inspired me in countless ways, and i hope you keep it coming. i can see it in yr eyes, matt, you have got the magic. the magic.
matthew william adusky
Fiery Furnaces Go Big â by Laura Studarus
Like a shooting star obscured by big city light pollution, criminally underrated Brooklyn-based brother sister duo Fiery Furnaces are back with their newest full-length Iâm Going Away. Could this be the moment when the Friedberger siblings finally throw off their lingering shrouds of obscurity and storm up the top 40 charts pulling and kicking a few studio-made divas in the process with their most ambitious and satisfyingly melodramatic work to date?
All signs point to yes.
Iâm Going Away, the eight-full length from the band, is a loud, epic affair. Somewhere amidst crashing guitars and distorted lyrics, the siblings have found their inner anger, their shouting and screaming punctuated with guttural wails. Gone is lead-woman Eleanorâs languid, croon. Instead, channeling her inner Patti Smith, she leads us though a series of increasingly angry torch songs to life as her character, a bored office executive goes on a multi-layered Heroâs Journey to self-exploration. Like a telenovela boiled into album form, itâs a lot to take in.
Eleanorâs character (only referred to as J) is filled with upper class rage. Torrid album opener, âIâm Going Awayâ finds her breaking free from her expected life — a paper pushing job, perfect boyfriend, cat. and beautiful loft apartment overlooking the Hudson Bay. However, her liberation comes at a price, as hinted in the line âIâve left my heart/scattered in pieces across the sheets where last we laid.â
The journey takes her to the hot dusty planes of Texas, where, in a small town outside Dallas, she consults with a medium, who, in the albumâs lone ballad â The End Is Nearâ warns her âlike a pencil skipping across the crumpled page/your path has ended, you will not remain.â Here, Eleanorâs voice cracks, trembling with emotion as she plays both the both the woman delivering and receiving the devastating blow. With the flood of anger continuing in the next song â as J watches friends get married and ponders the frivolity of marital bliss, itâs a much needed respite, a moment of simple clarity when we, briefly, are allowed to see the woman behind the pain.
J is robbed future and unsure where to go next. In a brief call wedged inside a telephone booth (for which sibling Matthew derives great credit for his use of âmusique concreteâ sampling techniques) during a howling rainstorm, she discovers her boyfriend has left her. Her boyfriend, played by Coldplayâs Chris Martin (who recently revealed he literally phoned in his performance from a faulty payphone outside a London Tesco) softly reminds J that he hurts tooâŠthey all do. Their conversation, the painfully brief âEven in the Rainâ ends with one of Eleanorâs trademark howlsâŠfading out as the rainstorm builds to a white-noise crescendo.
Jâs anger turns into a free-for-all, as she begins to question everything — society, man, and God, cumulating in the stark a capella suicide note, âLost at Sea,â where, in a nod to fellow New Yorker Silvia Plath, she weighs the pros-and-cons of death by gas or sea. Itâs a painful moment, where, breathless the listener waits, rapt as one womanâs fate hangs at razorâs edge. Anger downgraded to an exhausted rasp. Eleanor gives no indication which way J is leaning, the track ending with two minutes of extended silenceâŠand eternity.
We have our answer as, in the next track âCups and Punchesâ J wakes, body strewn in with the remnants of last nightâs wedding trash. Could it have only been a night? Scrawled across Jâs arm are would could easily be lyrics to the beginning of yet another Friedberger opus, âhe hit me so hard/ the love sparkled in his eyes.â Who is he? God? The boyfriend left back home? The mysterious, whisky drinking âRay Bouvier?â J gives us no indication. However, thereâs a softening, an acceptance. A distinct musical change. The last two songs find Eleanorâs voice featured in the mix rather than buried, her voice soft and clear. âTake Me Round Againâ brings the fortune tellerâs promise to fruition, as J reflects that, no, she could not go on â sheâs going home. As the final cord rings into oblivion the change is clear, however Jâs methods are still obscured. How will her life be different? Like so many of the Friedbergerâs auditory puzzles, thatâs up for you to solve.
Following the suitably rocking, but largely non-conceptual Widow City, it’s exciting to see the Furnaces return to an overarching theme with I’m Going Away, which builds a loose narrative about an Innuit arms dealer named Olikpok on a journey across the Eastern American sea board in the fall of 1966.
Musically, the new record seems less content to stay in one place for very long, even by the Furnaces standards. Energy is high and Eleanor has never sounded better as she practically screams “Everything’s to hell when I wasn’t around/Montauk is burning right down, down, down” on the near pub rock banger Ray Bouvier, an album highlight.
Particularly striking is the penultimate track, “Cups and Punches,” which nearly defies explanation. The nearest I can figure, it sounds like an early Beach Boys surf pop version of Lou Reed’s cacophonous 1975 release, Metal Machine Music, and has Matt wondering in top melodic form about “Pyramids and calcium deposits.”
From a production standpoint, this record sounds awfully different from the group’s previous output, with most tracks awash in bright, heavy reverb. This is a wonderful fit with their ever-developing style, and I’m Going Away is an absolute classic entry into the Fiery Furnaces canon.
P.S.: Love the panflute on Drive to Dallas!
Obviously, strapped to the hood of a wood paneled, speeding station
wagon, the air assaulting our faces takes a back seat to the ever
escaping horizon. With our hands and feet secured, for safety, only
our tilting necks in on the little secrets strewn throughout the
roadside. Blown tire strips tell the story behind a father escaping
his verbally abusive children, who constantly let him know of their
dissapointment that he only managed to make it as far as a rusty desk
at the back of his failing office. Our stationwagon follows more
evidence of his eventual escape; torn manilla folders blowing through
the wind, discarded credit cards hanging awkwardly out of trees and
bushes, and ties and button up white shirts torn and forgotten. That’s
one that has made it. And we’ve only seen mile marker Three.
The formula for a successful indie record might be summed up as a balancing act, tottering between accessibility â the familiar hooks that pull you in immediately â and enough innovation to keep the music interesting enough to stand up to repeated listenings. For some bands, this means stapling a unique (read: affected) vocal performance to a more or less standard pop routine. Others err on the side of experimentation, throwing the audience a catchy jingle in between recordings of raw meat being pounded (Scott Walker) or spoken word samples that bear no discernible relation to the actual music on the album (pick your favorite example). What makes the Fiery Furnaces different is not so much that they are able to strike this balance â after all, this is true of most really good bands â as that they do it in such a compelling way. I defy you to sit down and listen to Blueberry Boat and separate the elements that make it immediately catchy from what makes it sound fresh and different from the rest of your music collection.
In this respect, Iâm Going Away fits into the bandâs repertoire perfectly. Now, this isnât to say that it sounds like a âtypical Fiery Furnaces album,â if such a thing could even be said to exist. The albumâs title immediately distinguishes it from its predecessors, giving it the gravitas of a ninth symphony or Abbey Road . But at the same time, there are doubts. Sure, bands break up. But siblings? It would be unusual, to say the least.
The confusion melts away as soon as you press play: the title isnât referring to the band itself, but rather to Eleanor Friedbergerâs vocals as its melodic focus (they appear on only 2 of the albumâs tracks). Where a lesser band might falter with the loss of such a crucial sonic element, Eleanorâs talent on the flumpet makes up for this absence with skill and grace that make Beirut âs expeditions into brass ensembles look positively amateur. Matt Friedberger exploits this new timbre to showcase his own underappreciated talent on the hurdy gurdy. And the rest of the band gets into it too: over the album’s 47 minutes, cornamuses, sarrusophones, sackbuts, and crumhorns abound! The bandâs forays into the world of wind instruments might leave some fans mystified â particularly on paper â but the bigger surprise is that it actually rocks really hard. When you hear the album, you canât deny that the Furnaces are on to something. Just one question remains: if this is the sound of âgoing away,â then where will the band head next?
The new release by The Fiery Furnaces is a concept album, loosely based on the story of an old childhood friend of Eleanor and Matthew Friedberger. The album tells of a crazy few days in the life of Chairmaine Champagne,a hooker from Philadelphia,who was on death row for the murder of her pimp,Ray Bouvier.IM GOING AWAY recounts Chairmaine telling her lover, Vic McNulty,that she’s got no chance of beating the murder case.DRIVE TO DALLAS picks up the story as Vic manages to break Chairmaine out of prison and the pair go on the run, destination Dallas.We move to THE END IS NEAR with Eleanor’s voice portraying the tension of the storyline as the FBI move ever closer to capturing the runaway lovers.CHAIRMAINE CHAMPAGNE takes us back a few years,telling us how Chairmaine ended up in prostitution.CUT THE CAKE begins and the heavy drumbeat lightens as our couple are at the altar for a haistly arranged wedding.They head for a nearby diner where their cup cakes seem every bit as good as a 4 tier wedding cake.EVEN IN THE RAIN,the bad weather does nothing to deter the pursuing cops, Matthews Mellotron M400 perfectly sets the dark tone of the story on this song and track 7,STARING AT THE STEEPLE as the lovers continue their journey,only stopping to take a last look back at the church. RAY BOUVIER sees Matthew on vocals as the story of the murder is told from the viewpoint of the deceased pimp.KEEPING ME IN DARK,the pair get off the streets and go into hiding,lyrically this section is darker than anything off previous album Widow City.Track 10 is LOST AT SEA,they steal a boat and head for Mexico but a huge storm kicks in and Vic is thrown overboard,Chairmaine makes it back to shore.CUPS AND PUNCHES,she is captured and while being booked in for questioning, puts up a hell of a fight.TAKE ME ROUND AGAIN,Chairmaine’s fate is sealed as she’s taken back to death row.I didn’t know if The Fiery Furnaces could top Widow City,this dark but often funny album certainly does.A mad,clever and brilliant piece of work.
hello you, here is my deaf description:
Le nouvel album de the fiery furnaces, I’M GOING AWAY, sortira sur nos tablettes en juillet.
Eleanor Friedberger et son frĂšre Matthew Friedberger se surpasse une fois de plus avec leurs sons explosifs accompagnĂ© cette fois-ci d’une voix plus douce et grinĂ§ante. Matthew oeuvre encore avec des arrangements hors du commun comme nous pouvons l’observer avec la chanson FROM NEW YORK JUNKYARD. Ă la fois psychĂ©dĂ©lique et orchestral, Robert D’Amico et Jason Loewenstein, accompagne bien ce quatuor de plus en plus en effervescence. SISTER AND BROTHER’S QUARRELL reste ma chanson prĂ©fĂ©rĂ©e sur cette album qui restera marquĂ© dans l’histoire.
Jonathan PagĂ© (john on air on myspace)
The Fiery Furnaces’ latest album isnÂŽt an easy one to describe. Maybe itÂŽs a bit schizophrenic.
If it was a person, it would be the guy in the club who is sitting in a corner and quietly observing everything. He is to shy to talk to someone and when you finally have a conversation with him, he barely talks, rather lets you tell him what you think. Still he is incredibly charming and there is something about him which cannot be described with words. You can tell by his face what heÂŽs thinking and not only simple thoughts like “good” or “bad”. Really complex ones. He is evil but innocent. Totally enthusiastic, positive but also down. An open book to read with a hidden, secret last page. And he would be a good dancer if you only let him. Some might think heÂŽs bizarre, but heÂŽs simply marvellous. ThatÂŽs how the album sounds.
Das neue Album der Fiery Furnaces, “IÂŽm going away”, ist wie ein Sturm der an dir vorrĂŒberzieht und dich mit zerstĂ¶rter Frisur zurĂŒcklĂ€sst, nur dass in diesem Fall die Haare vom eher exzessiven Tanzen durcheinander gekommen sind, nicht vom Wind. WĂ€hrend man sich nun begeistert freut, ĂŒber die Leichtigkeit der Lieder, entdeckt man doch immer wieder ungewohnt dĂŒstere KlĂ€nge. Der Gesang hĂ€lt das Ganze zusammen und macht die StĂŒcke komplett. Die latente Verschrobenheit macht die Platte ziemlich liebenswert. Die Band hat sich (wie immer) in eine Richtung entwickelt, die niemand so richtig vermutet hĂ€tte. Sie bleiben sich dennoch treu und man erkennt die Musik sofort als die der Fiery Furnaces. Also kommen AnhĂ€nger voll auf ihre Kosten und Neugierige, die auf der Suche nach etwas neuem, aufregenden, untypischen sind, ist zu empfehlen sich in den Plattenladen ihres Vertrauens zu begeben und “IÂŽm going away” zu kaufen.
hi fiery furnaces. the earliest incarnation of my band was once described as sounding like you guys. (personally, and to your credit, i didn’t really agree with that so much, but i took it as a compliment of variety)
I’m Going Away sounds like the title to your
desolation music (as in imagining standing in a completely flat expanse of land after nuclear winter has left the earth’s surfaces essentially nothing but huge deserts of varying temperature)
apocalypse dub (like enter the 36 chambers RZA beats combined with the grittiest most delay and echo filled most mellow of dub songs you can only find on ancient cassettes.)
rollicking space rockabilly (like guitar wolf mixed with ambient soundscapes mixed with more SPACE (outerSPACE) than those 2 descriptions already imply and then blended and poured over top the pompadour of the craziest, squeakiest rockabilly singer [like that song charlie feather's sings on kill bill volume 2])
basically a clash of the color grey with the completely refracted image of white light through a triangular prison that’s 23984239837 times as cool as the one on the cover to that darkside of the moon joint.
i hope you guys could dig that, i know i would.
ziyed aka megawattbass aka All Black Hi-Tops, of His Mystery Girl and The Creepy Magicians fame.
“I’m Going Away”, the latest album from The Fiery Furnaces is at best, a psychadelic journey into Jupiter’s atmosphere and at worst, distant lambent architecture. A maglev train constructed of major 7ths Carries lead vocalist, Eleanor Friedburger across the arctic circle under stained glass aurora harpsichord reverb, field recorder in tow. Meanwhile, Instrumentalist, Matthew Friedburger measures the acoustics of ocean waves from within the orchestra pit of the sydney opera house wearing half a tuxedo, cut lengthwise. The album builds tension as the modulation of the sea is interpereted musically by 2 analog synths jacked into a giant conch shell amp, harmonizing dissonantly in an impossible spidron wave. At the albums first crescendo (indicated in the liner notes as “the quaternary period”), Eleanor arrives vocally at a remote station in Prypiat, Ukraine, transferring on a ghost bus heading to a location near an abandoned giant Dega-3 antenna. Using the field recorder to pick up the droning rusted chord progression coming across the plains from the antenna as well as an owl on a nearby branch, Eleanor bends the course of the album, lifting into the apex via helicopter guitar. Guitars play a huge roll in bringing the album into full saturation. Colors explode from the pacific, they start teaching science at schools WITH PIANOS, Platonic and Archemedean Solids become currency, the seasons change. A square wave sounds over birds, a triangle wave sounds over freeway traffic, a sine wave sounds over trickling water, and white noise sounds over a kalimba, and the album comes to an end with Eleanor humming over the sounds of Matthew powering down equipment within 17 major cities, bringing a truly labyrinthine epic to a close.
THE FIERY FURNACES’ “I’m Going Away” (Thrill Jockey, 2009):
The sibling sizzle of Eleanor and Matthew Friedberger remains intact on
the dynamic duo’s new album, “I’m Going Away,” but Fiery Furnaces fans
expecting “Widow City, Part II” are certain to be disappointed. Of
course anyone expecting FF to repeat themselves obviously aren’t real
Fusing together the horn-fueled fury of the Sun Ra Arkestra with Shelby
Lynne’s smolder, the ironically titled “The End Is Near” kicks off the
band’s eighth album with a socially conscious cosmic-pop anthem that’s
part bent-knee plea for forgiveness and part instruction manual for
assembling the Nu-Matic Cushion A-45 high-back, swivel desk chair.
Fortunately, things get better after that. The Friedbergers’
kaleidoscopic musical vision fractures the uber-hipster
faux-sophistication of Lord Buckley, the delicious, demented decadence
of the Tiger Lillies, the laid-back but deadly back-porch-swing punch
of Ramblin Jug Stompers, the precision scat of Lambert, Hendricks &
Ross and the on-the-ledge instrumental inventiveness of Harry Partch.
Then FF gathers the shards togther and Crazy Glues (TM) ‘em into a
shiny but rain-soaked batch of a dozen songs guaranteed to send your
iPod back to the 8-track era.
Lyrically, the hyper-literate FF approach reaches out to embrace (and
sometimes tickle) many of the band’s most enduring influences. William
Kennedy, Marcel Duchamp, Bootsy Collins, Margarite Duras and Jim Bouton
are all referenced – and that’s just in “Keep Me in the Dark,” a
minor-key ode to the fears that lurk in the shadows of urban drudgery.
While FF have always been too wiley to walk anything other than the
road less traveled, here they’re not afraid to dance into the heavy
traffic of the middle of the road, either.
While the whole album fearlessly veers into the eccentric and eclectic,
there’s no bigger surprise here than the cover of the Average White
Band’s classic, 1975 dance-floor favorite, “Cut the Cake.” They’ve
fearlessly stripped away the funk – something akin to building a house
without a foundation – but they’ve replaced the deep-dish groove with a
twin theremin-mandolin riff that’s destined to move into your long-tern
memory bank and stay there for months without ever paying rent.
Listen at your own risk, but listen.
With a title like I’m Going Away filling the cover and first track, you may think,”Where are we going?” Thankfully our guide gets right to the point with his opening line. “I’m going away, but not just any way, I’m going away” With things now clear we are led be the notorious male(MF) into a melting wordpot of vomitously streaming disjointed and overindulgent language mashings*. It’s such a sloppy sexy 10 minutes that you’d dare get back in line if there wasn’t 11 more songs. We’re changed up by our attractively slight narrator(EF) using the rest of the album to explain what the notorious male presumably made perfectly clear on the first track. She is elegant in her wordy rhyming, a sound you would wish was more evident on previous work if it hadn’t been. It’s clear she alliterally like’s her tail masculine.
As awaken by a barking dog, I can tell you this is what just happened. We go to Dallas, though the city is never mentioned, either there’s a birthday party or marriage, probably both. The necessary honeymoon ensues and things go terribly right. At the cruiseline buffet counter encounter “Ray Bouvier” to a JAWS like mangled symphony(hear is where things get depressing). With the help of a CruiseBoat Shammy our hero frees a life boat and we’re lost at sea. NM is rescued by somilian pirates. yeah, it’s gets little fuzzy from here but looks like pirates blood last supper was a tupperbag stuffer. Just a few fiery bible errata as we go around again, deja vu but more pu, humans being human being heros. This duo refuses to be booable with hugs/kisses when WW/HGLS hits wax.
*71/2 out of 10 deafies support this statement
well let’s see… going on the track record of your previous albums, we can make a graph of how well they performed in my brain -
-gallowsbird’s bark/8- -rehearsing my choir/8- -widow city/8-
-bitter tea/5- -remember/5-
so it looks like, with the exception of blueberry boat, you guys have been pretty hit and miss with your albums. however, if this trend continues along its current trajectory, i’m willing to bet the new album is going to sound something like the cocaine fairy pie that i baked in the oven of life that held the bull’s testicles with loving care. if you could swim the length of the columbia river and eat the fish as in one mouthful as you swam by and thought of david thompson and how the coast salish though that simon fraser was jesus and why ginger ale pured on to paper sometimes makes you cry, i’m going away will probably sound something like that.
I’M GOING AWAY
The titular track to this brand new LP from the Fiery Furnaces takes no prisoners, literally. This seven minute track seems to be a scene between a queen and a series of serfs being interrogated and promptly executed. The drums bounce from left to right, simulating the bouncing of the heads as they roll across the floor. This gruesome track exhibits Eleanor’s vocal range as she jumps between K. Clarksonesque pop vocalizings and Tom W.’ish grumblings. Track ends with someone’s cell phone ringing and Matt berating someone called “Kevin.”
DRIVE TO DALLAS
The verbal onslaught continues for the next three minutes as Matt’s voice morphs in a novocain blur of harmonium and pan flute. The final seconds are Kevin’s retort, severely muffled by the sound of temporary tattoos being applied. This track may not make it onto very many summer mix tapes, but it sets the stage for awkward aggressiveness that this album encapsulates. This key track shows the frustration one must feel to finally slap the chess board off the marble table and exclaim “I’M GOING AWAY!”
THE END IS NEAR
Featuring a guest vocal from what sounds undeniably like Dustin Hoffman, but is credited in the liner notes as Kevin Kertin, this song is a melody of 1980’s saturday morning children’s cartoons themes. Featuring such shows as “Adventures of the Little Koala”, “Inspector Gadget”, “Seabert”, “Muppet Babies”, and “Captain Caveman” to name a few, this track is coated in enough sugary sweet sentimentalism to seduce even the most casual of listeners.
It is hard to say which track mirrors which, given the order they are ordered in on this record, but for the sake of sense and clarity I will phrase it this way: This song is “Cut the Cake” played backwards. Now, one may argue that because this song appears on the record first, it is “Cut the Cake” that is “Charmaine Champagne” backwards, but they would just be acting obtuse. This track serves no purpose on the record beyond the Fiery Furnaces showing off how weird they can get away with being. That being said, this track makes about as much sense as it’s direct decedent.
CUT THE CAKE
This song takes it’s lyrics as a direct copy and paste from the Latvian Wikipedia page entry for Sugar, or Cukurs, and Eleanor takes privileges with the pronunciation, switching between Spanish and French intonations. Backing vocals by Matt seem to be back-masked and sped up recordings of him reading the owner’s manual for a 1974 Ford Thunderbird spliced in with him reading scripts from various episodes of Friends.
EVEN IN THE RAIN
An impressive feat of lyrical prowess by the Friedberger siblings in this key track. The song itself is a palindrome, both in the lyrics and the song’s chord structure. Furthermore, the mathematical values of each letter added together equals 120 which is the tempo to which the song is set. The song is calculated in every aspect. Unfortunately, it makes not a lick of sense and is near unlistenable. “Iâm a fool; aloof am I.”
STARING AT THE STEEPLE
Matt takes the mic on this song, accompanied only by the sound of tropical birds and church bells. A confessional tale of drunken surgery outings in the south pacific with a deplorable Dr. Dorado. Song ends with yet another cell phone ringing, but this time Matt answers the phone with a somber “Hello.”
The answering word from the final moment of the previous track begins to cycle and swirl rapidly between the speakers and build into a cacophony of sound that suddenly breaks with the strike of a piano notes so stunning that at first listen, one would believe that a phantom had just run them over with a 1974 Ford Thunderbird. The revving engine matched with the grand piano are the driving force in this song, with Eleanor whispering inaudibly between heart breaking chords. The track ends with the sound of ice melting, filtered through a screen door on a hot summer night in south-southwestern North Carolina.
KEEP ME IN THE DARK
This cover of Duran Duran’s “Keep Me In The Dark” is a tired and cliche old hat. The only thing that makes this track worth note is the scratch and sniff card that accompanies the album which gives directions to scratch certain number squares at certain points throughout the song.
LOST AT SEA
What can be considered the most “normal” song on the record, “Lost At Sea” tackles the topic of tropical colonization from the perspective of a P.I. in the search of work in these tough economic times. The song makes a point of using each of the 31 flavor names of Baskin Robbins’ ice creams.
CUPS AND PUNCHES
More of a lecture than a song, this track is an extrapolation on Douglas McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y and presents a new theory, Theory Z and discusses the importance and relevance of monogrammed handkerchiefs to human motivation.
TAKE ME AROUND AGAIN
Opening with three minutes and two seconds of silence, this song then sings the alphabet in several different languages to the beat of Smokey Robinson’s “Tears of a Clown.” In the final moments of this record, in the left speaker, you can hear someone texting a rather long message, after which they take the battery pack out of the cell phone and goes away.
I’m Going Away is an appropriate title. Since they’re going away from the madness they’re known for. Coherent and catchy funk songs that instantly change into overdriven blues? (Cut The Cake) Beatboxing under an A capella bass solo? (The End Is Near) Ridiculously sexual and somewhat political lyrics such as “No blow, no hand, no rim, no jobs, here comes our great depression”? (Keep Me In The Dark) Eleanor’s screaming at the end of the 8 minute constantly building 8-bit synth heavy closer Take Me Round Again? These questions lead me to the question I always ask every time I listen to a Fiery Furnaces album. What the hell? I mean this album sounds like 12 different weird obscure local bands of all genres and styles got together and threw each of their best songs onto one disc, called up the Friedbergers and said “you should cover this album of ours. It’d be pretty nifty.” And nifty it was.
The Fiery Furnaces – Im Going Away
The seasons having been changing faster than I can smoke a pack of parliaments. I find myself rapidly feeling more hollow, lost in a cavernous hole with no rope to pull me up. No light to read me Nabokov. Endless hours pass like stripes of white on a highway.
For a lost and confused musician like myself, the sounds of the Fiery Furnaces are always a key source for helping to achieve sanity, in this dull and lousy world of dead ideas. I want songs that will change at the drop of a hat. I want layers of nords, korgs, synths, bells, whistles, and funny noises to fuel my emptiness. I want lyrics that can be made up, catchy, cheerful, bitter, and yet in their own strange fashion, still make sence. In this struggle world of creative arts, im happy to report that The Fiery Furnaces new album “Im Going Away”, is the cure to any artistic hangover. Its absolutly devine.
The approach that the FF take in this venture is a little more subtle then previous efforts. On “Widow City”, you heard music a bit more conventional (conventional for the FF), and while there were a suits worth of solid songs, there is no way it could match up to classics like “EP”, or “Blueberry Boat”. I would go to say that songs on this album have more of the feel of “Gallowbirds Bark”, yet infuse more of the beefy synths, that were prevelent when seeing the band on their last tour. Who needs guitars these days? With animal collective to only using samples and a keyboard live, the art of string based music has become dated. Not to say there is no “Mason City” guitar solo on this album, there is still alot that is heard that is advanced and welcomed then Widow City.
Im most fond of Eleanor on this album. The witty charm of her talk/shout/sing in “Charmaine Champagne” gives her a new persona, as if Patti Smith and Markie Smith had a child and played her Marvin Gaye all her life. This track alone will gain them at least enough fan base to play at the Fillmore in San Francisco.
The album really shines when Eleanor and Matthew sing together. Harmonies are all the rage (fleet foxes, vivian girls, grizzly bear), however these sibilings seem to do it better. Instead of presenting some sort of false imaginary feeling of bliss, they sing with their gut. A new vision of a possibilties alone come from the vocals on this album.
However…”Ray Bouvier?”…i dont get that track…its kind of like…i dont know…scary? its ok, but it sticks out like a sore thumb.
Anyhow, the album sounds great. Maintaining the true essence of the fiery furnaces while trying to sound new and adventurous. Got praise them!
i think it’s going to sound like Noah’s Ark on acid
An acquaintance (a friend of a friend, you know) once referred me to the Fiery Furnaces as an alternative to the incessant nine to five drudgery that has quite regrettably become my life over the past three weeks/years. And to that acquaintance I must say, “why, yes!”
I AM GOING AWAY is a new experience/time of day, thanks to e.f. AND m.f. I AM GOING AWAY is made of music, I hope you know. I AM GOING AWAY could, quite possibly, also be made of:
- A bat (mammal)
- 3 leather pocketbooks, one ostrich?!
- Eight and a half by eleven inches
- A noticeably absent spider
- 22 times the maximum limit of acceptable uses of the word “beneath”
- Love (emotion)
- Running full speed, not paying attention
- A pair of gloves
- Toll booths in Oklahoma
- Strict adherence to traditions
- Night time
Will you decide? If you can not immediately, please consider trying later!
An album about the loss of personal identity? Yes, but not merely in clinically detached and abstracted existential terms. Matt’s mordant treatment of the matter – and matter is the operational term here – squarely involves organic decay. Thematically, the album can be viewed as a composition about decomposition in the politics of personal (corporeal) identity. The work is structured around the three parts of the brain: the cerebrum, cerebellum, and the brain stem. All these pieces appear to refer to the functions each part subserves. And because the work uses the brain hierarchy as its organzining principle, an inherent drama evolves as the words and music ordinally constellate around a telling diminuation of identity as one leaves the realm of the cerebrum. Rather than being cloyingly academic , “I am Going Away” mines the earthy good (albeit oblique) humored mental ruminations of Samuel Beckett in his trilogy of the ego’s disolution, :Molloy, Malone Dies, and the Unameable. I dare say this is the sonic equivalent of that masterpiece. Matt’s glossalalic approach to lyrics is now strikingly enhanced toward this end by a sort of perverse aromatherapy; a skillful attempt to elicit the keenly visceral. Make no mistake; the burning tire, the mix of fresh sod and overripe cod, the stench of three day old garbage, etc – all of these were not merely parlour tricks to hype the album. Matt and Eleanor used each during the recording as a reagent not only to “color” the vocal quality, but also as a far more subtle caustic to mess with musical attack, decay (again a metaphor!), and time signature. When Eleanor wheezes, gags, and burbles her way through the very primal numbskullery of “S’long Exquisite Corpus Callous Callous Co-low some,” near the end of the album ( informed by the brain stem), it isn’t simply a referent to the noxious fumes of the burning Bridgestone tire (actually one that didtn’t pass the State inspection on Eleanor’s Camry) in the studio as a novelty,per se, but a poignant reference to all that went before. The sum of all the (brain) parts. Brilliant work yes, but the addition of the scratch and sniff odors used strikes me as a bit self indulgent.
Like witches brewing a mystical enchanted broth or craft services setting up a lunch spread at the video shoot for the newest Chingy video, The Fiery Furnaces have been selflessly and handsomely working away in the deepest, dankest pits of a well-furnished spacious New York recording studio putting the final touches on their upcoming album “I’m Going Away”, a strange and ecclectic trip through the sounds of heartland America except with a lot more marimbas, reverse cymbals and fuzzed out guitar riffs. Album opener and, coincidentally, title track “I’m Going Away” opens with the sound of eggs being fried in a wok before slowly dissolving into a sizzling guitar riff that wraps itself seductively around a funky start-stop bass groove which incidentally is already tangled up in a pounding drum stampede. The drums are not caught up in anything. The album’s highlight, 5th track “Cut the Cake”, opens up with Eleanor Friedberger’s lone voice crying out “If I had some leaves then I would rake/If I had a knife then I’d cut the cake” before a brass band kicks in with the classic sound of Dixieland Jazz circa 1920 as the sound of steamboats echo in the background. Unexpected? Yes. Loads of references to the south rising again in the lyrics? Also yes. The song ends with 6 minutes of ambient cricket noise which seques perfectly into the next track “Even in the Rain”, a haunting ballad and album highlight consisting of nothing but the soothing sounds of a Casio PT-80 keyboard and the occasional shake of a heavly reverbed maraca. It’s wonderful and sounds like Brian Wilson covering “Times of Change” by the Scorpions with a tinge of Supertramp thrown in for good measure. The record’s most upbeat track, “Cups and Punches”, is a jolly romp into British Invasion territory, a cheeky 60’s garage pop tune about a fight that breaks up over the morning cup of tea sung over a guitar riff that Ray Davies would sell his platinum records for (not literally as those probably hold a lot of sentinmental value for him and he wouldn’t want to get rid of them at any price). Finally, the record ends on a high note with definite album highlight “Take Me Round Again”, a singalong sea shanty lyrically detailing a crew’s effort to fulfill a dying captain’s wish to sail around Cape Horn one more time before he dies of cholera. Using lots of pipe organ, ocean sound effects and multiple uses of the word “barge”, the song manages to perfectly capture the feeling of life on the sea before fading out the album with the gentle sounds of a boat slowly drifting away, it’s horn bellowing into the wind, a bellow that slowly turns into the sound of eggs sizzling in a wok to give the album that whole “full circle” feel although it doesn’t thematically make any sense at all.
And that is I’m Going Away.
Van onze correspondent uit Sliedrecht – Martha Lavooi
Iâm going away – The Fiery Furnaces
Twee jaar na het laatste studio album Widow City is het nieuwe album van de Fiery Furnaces Iâm going away uitgekomen.
De band heeft opnieuw gekozen voor een titel die wellicht de suggestie wekt dat de band uit elkaar gaat, net als bij het vorige live album Remember. Deze geruchten wijzen natuurlijk alleen op de angst van fans dat hun band er op een dag mee stopt. In het geval van Iâm going away gaat het album over verschillende soorten van uit elkaar gaan en verder gaan.
Iâm going away is het eerste Fiery Furnaces album dat geĂŻnspireerd is door New York. De teksten van vorige albums waren geĂŻnspireerd door plaatsen over de hele wereld: van Japan tot aan Egypte en van Den Haag tot aan Davenport. Dit album is thematisch gezien veel dichter bij huis geschreven, gezien het feit dat het gaat over winkels en gebeurtenissen in Brooklyn. De Fiery Furnaces hebben het album echter juist verder van huis opgenomen. Zoals de teksten van Rehearsing my choir, die gebaseerd waren op Chicago maar uitstapjes maakten naar Griekenland, zo maakt Iâm going away uitstapjes naar Zweden en Polen. Dit geeft het album een meer bereisd geluid. En zoals Widow city gebaseerd was op het 70âs kapsel van Eleanor, zo wordt gezegd dat Iâm going away gebaseerd is op het kapsel van Matt, wat erg modern en typisch New Yorks is. Het algemene thema van het album is het weggaan naar een nieuwe plaats waar de hoofdpersonen een betere versie van zichzelf proberen te vinden.
The new album includes more of Matt singing. Also, his creativity has led him beyond instrumental limitations, breaking new grounds soundwise. (To achieve this he seems to have been using, amongst others, a Roland Juno 6, a limited but characteristic sounding synthesizer of the 80s.) Iâm going away is a real Fiery Furnaces album, as you have to listen more often, before you really get it.
Op het nieuwe album zingt Matt meer dan op vorige albums. Ook heeft zijn creativiteit ervoor gezorgd dat hij boven de grenzen van zijn instrumenten is uitgestegen waardoor hij op het gebied van klank een nieuw gebied heeft ontgonnen. (Om dit voor elkaar te krijgen lijkt hij gebruik gemaakt te hebben van onder andere een Roland Juno 6, een gelimiteerde maar karakteristiek klinkende synthesizer uit de jaren 80. Iâm going away is het type Fiery Furnaces album dat je vaker moet horen, voor je het helemaal kunt bevatten.
Beschrijving van alle nummers:
1. Chinese Musician (Chinese muzikant)
Na een lang en melancholisch intro is dit het eerste nummer van het album. Het nummer lijkt te gaan over uit eten gaan, terwijl je ook gewoon thuis had kunnen eten. Het is geschreven uit het perspectief de Poolse eigenaar van het restaurant, die pretendeert Chinees en muzikant te zijn.
2. Funeral Home (Begrafenis Huis)
Matt zingt veel in dit nummer. Zijn donkere stem klinkt alsof hij de teksten die hij zingt niet hoort. De stem van Eleanor is hier op een mooie manier mee in tegenspraak, omdat zij juist bewust lijkt te zijn van haar personage, maar juist weer niet van zichzelf.
3. Secret of Beauty (Het geheim van schoonheid)
Terwijl een jongeman jonge vrouwen de geheimen van schoonheid leert, droomt hij ervan mooi van binnen te zijn en besluit hij naar Stockholm te verhuizen. In Stockholm komt hij erachter dat zijn hart toch bij zijn winkel ligt en hij verhuist weer terug.
4. From Sweden (Uit Zweden)
In mijn ogen het beste nummer van het album. Het is een vervolg op Bright blue tie van het album Gallowsbirdâs bark. De man in het eerste nummer voelt zich nu niet op zijn plek met zijn verloofde in Zweden. Hij besluit om zijn ex vriendin te bezoeken die nu in Brooklyn woont. Hij is volwassen geworden en biedt zijn excuses aan voor de man die hij geweest is en voor de manier waarop hij de gevoelens van zijn ex gekwetst heeft. Zij accepteert zijn spijtbetuiging en hij reist terug naar Zweden om te trouwen. Het is mooi om te horen hoe Eleanor dit verhaal zingt alsof ze de man is en hem met al zijn onzekerheden en angsten volledig begrijpt.
5. Iâm going away (Ik ga weg)
Uiteraard, een titel nummer. Ik ga weg schijnt de meest gehoorde uitspraak in Brooklyn te zijn. Het is mooi om te horen hoe Eleanor de tekst met dezelfde magie kan zingen als âgo ahead, you can cut my throatâ.
6. Christinaâs restaurant (Christinaâs restaurant)
Het gevoel verdeeld te zijn over twee landen, in dit geval Polen en Amerika. Er gebeuren rare dingen in het restaurant, hoewel het niet helemaal duidelijk is wat er precies aan de hand is. De muziek herinnert mij aan de muziek van Charles Ives, toen hij experimenteerde met het laten marcheren van de fanfare door het landschap van zijn klassieker. Jason Loewenstein heeft het voor elkaar gekregen om een vergelijkbare illusie te creĂ«ren op zijn basgitaar, goed gedaan!
7. Federal credit union (Federale krediet unie)
Dit nummer gaat over geld en macht, maar van een afstand bekeken. Het is een dromerig nummer met veel ruimte voor synthesizer en drums.
8. Live poultry (Levend gevogelte)
GeĂŻnspireerd op het koken van buitenlandse gerechten om je thuis te voelen. Matt heeft het voor elkaar gekregen om kookgeluiden op zijn synthesizer te maken. Ik kan niet wachten tot ik hem dat op het podium kan zien doen.
9. Black rabbit (Zwart konijn)
Naar een bar gaan die pretendeert Brits te zijn. Ondanks dat de bar er duidelijk Brits uit ziet, zorgt het Amerikaanse Engels dat gesproken wordt dat die illusie gebroken wordt bij het binnenkomen. Dit nummer past perfect bij Eleanor, omdat je nooit zeker weet of ze Britse of Amerikaanse is.
10. Polamer millenium (Polamer millenium)
Een nummer over het kopen van een krant, terwijl je al weet dat je hem niet zult gaan lezen omdat je je eigen beeld van de wereld vast wil houden. Matt zingt veel in dit nummer en dat past bij de teksten, die erg Matt-achtig zijn. Je kunt hem horen dagdromen terwijl hij geloofd dat hij echt luistert.
11. Medical laboratory (Medisch laboratorium)
Natuurlijk, een nummer over water. Dit nummer gaat over willen gaan zwemmen in water dat daar nog te koud voor is. Je weet dat je het vreselijk koud zult gaan krijgen als je het doet, maar je doet het toch. Het nummer klinkt als de nummers van Blueberry boat.
12. Sunshine laundromat (Zonneschijn wasserette)
Een nummer dat geĂŻnspireerd is op reizen. Het gaat over het alleen bezoeken van plaatsen, zonder dat je je alleen voelt. Met een vleugje Klezmir muziek.
13. Happy end â Eat in/Take out (Eind goed, al goed â Hier opeten of meenemen)
In tegenstelling tot wat de titel zou kunnen suggereren, is dit nummer gebaseerd op een Pools restaurant in Brooklyn. Het vertelt het verhaal van Bill en Jessica (eindelijk!). Een groots nummer met veel percussie. Bob DâAmigo laat duidelijk zijn talent horen op dit slotnummer.
From our Sliedrecht correspondent Martha Lavooi
Iâm going away â The Fiery Furnaces
Two years after the release of their last studio album Widow City, the new album of The Fiery Furnaces Iâm going away has been released.
Again, the band has chosen for a title that might feed rumors about the band breaking up, just like their previous live album Remember. But off course, these rumors point at the anxiety of fans about their band quitting one day. In this case, Iâm going away deals with different kinds of breaking up and moving on.
Iâm going away is the first New York inspired album by the Fiery Furnaces. On previous albums, lyrics have been inspired by places around the world, from Japan to Egypt, from The Hague to Davenport. This album has been thematically written much closer to home as it deals with establishments and happenings in the Brooklyn area. The Fiery Furnaces have recorded and written the album much further away from home, though. Just like the Chicago-based lyrics of Rehearsing my choir, Iâm going away has thematical sidesteps besides Brooklyn. Instead of Greece, this time Sweden and Poland have been chosen as sidestep to give the album a more traveled sound. While Widow City has been inspired by Eleanorâs 70âs haircut, Iâm going away is said to be inspired by Mattâs haircut, which is very modern and New York-ish. General theme of the album is going away to a new place where the characters try to find a better version of themselves.
The new album includes more of Matt singing. Also, his creativity has led him beyond instrumental limitations, breaking new grounds soundwise. (To achieve this he seems to have been using, amongst others, a Roland Juno 6, a limited but characteristic sounding synthesizer of the 80s.) Iâm going away is a real Fiery Furnaces album, as you have to listen more often, before you really get it.
Track by track description:
1. Chinese Musician
After a long and melancholic instrumental intro to the album, this song seems to be about eating out, while you could have been eating at home. Written from the perspective of the Polish restaurant owner who pretends being Chinese and a musician.
2. Funeral Home
Loads of Matt vocals in this song. His dark voice sounds like heâs not aware of the lyrics heâs singing. Eleanorâs vocals nicely contradicts with that, as she seems character-aware, though maybe not self-aware.
3. Secret of beauty
While a young boy teaches young girls the secret of beauty, he dreams of being beautiful from the inside and decides to move to Stockholm, where he finds his heart belongs to his former workplace anyway and moves back.
4. From Sweden
In my opinion the best song of the album. An encore of Bright blue tie, from the Gallowsbirdâs Bark album. The guy of the older song feels now uncomfortable with his fiancĂ©e in Sweden and decides to visit his former girlfriend, who lives in Brooklyn now. He has grown and apologies for the boy he has been and how he hurt his former girlfriend. She accepts his apology and he travels back to marry his fiancĂ©e. It is great how Eleanor sings this story as if she is the guy and truly understands him and his fears and insecurities.
5. Iâm going away
Off course, the traditional title track. Iâm going away is said to be the most-heard statement in the Brooklyn area. Itâs great to hear Eleanor sing those words with the same magic as she can sing âgo ahead, you can cut my throatâ during live performances.
6. Christinaâs restaurant
The feeling of being torn between two countries, in this case Poland and America. Some strange things happen in the restaurant, though it is not clear what is truly going on. The music reminds me of the music of Charles Ives, in which the composer experiments with a marching band walking through the soundscape of this classical piece of work. Jason Loewenstein has been able to create a comparable illusion on his bass guitar, great job!
7. Federal credit union
This song deals with cash and power, though from a distant perspective. It is a dream-like song with loads of space for synthesizers and drums.
8. Live poultry
Inspired by cooking dishes from abroad in order to feel at home. Matt has been able to produce cooking sounds on his synthesizer. Canât wait to see him doing that live on stage.
9. Black rabbit
Going to a bar that pretends to be British. Although it certainly looks British, the American vowels of the public cause the illusion to break when entering. This song fits Eleanor perfect, as you never can truly figure out whether she is American or British.
10. Polamer Millenium
A song about buying a newspaper, while knowing you wonât read it because you want to hold on to your own mindset. Loads of Matt vocals, which fit the Matt lyrics. You can hear him daydreaming away, while he believes he is truly listening.
11. Medical laboratory
Off course, a song about water. This song is about wanting to swim in too cold water. Knowing youâll be freezing afterwards, but doing it anyway. Sounds very Blueberry Boat like.
12. Sunshine Laundromat
A song inspired by travelling. It is about visiting places on your own, without feeling alone. With a touch of Klezmer music.
Happy End â Eat in/Take out
Contrary to what the title may suggest, this song is inspired by a Polish restaurant in Brooklyn. It tells the story of Bill and Jessica (finally!). A grand song with loads of percussion. Bob DâAmigo truly shows his talent on this final song.
This is for “Cut the Cake.”
The lyrics follow the unhappy marriage of a couple, but the narrative is backwards so it starts with their divorce and ends with the cake being cut. The song starts out with an assault of noise and gradually instruments are cut out of the mix until at the end a jangly piano is all that’s left. Eleanor’s vocals are dubbed so that it sounds like she’s singing in a round. The time signature is in 7/4. The chorus is sung backwards, of course.
The new Fiery Furnaces album, I’m Going Away, sounds like a renegade steam train that has long since forsaken the rails for the adventure of deserts, mountains and cities alike. Everywhere it goes, half eaten plates of fried chicken, frisbees and tacks fall from the roofs of the carriages into the hands of the eager townspeople and well-wishers, who spontaneously break into the traditional train-spewing-gifts chant at regular intervals along the path. And that’s just the first song! Or, more accurately, just the first suite!
The next movement consists of mostly found sound, screeching metal and animal noises, and gives one the distinct sensation of breathing burning leaves and chili oil. I will often skip ahead to the next section to avoid the pain.
And once I do that, I am treated to one of the most gently soothing and satisfying experiences I have ever had in my life, kind of like what sleeping encased in warm but firm gelatin or being flash-frozen might feel like. Or maybe like getting simultaneous massages from thousands of tiny velvet-footed geishas or finally telling your grandma how you *really* feel.
The final, multi-movement piece comprises a good 43% of the album and begins with a section that feels like washing your legs with steel wool and ice water in the dead of winter while a cheerleading squad chants meditational vocal drones and dada nonsense. Soon enough, rapid fire, jagged shards of scrap metal are being hurled at your head; they startle and cut the serenity, but surprisingly only bruise the eyeballs and singe the eyelashes. It all comes to a crashing shambles, with lampshades floating in the air as thick as spawning krill– changing styles, colors and eras spontaneously– until, without warning they all change to chandeliers and crash to the ground in one giant, shuddering, shattering explosion of glass and metal.
hello furnaces! long time listener, first time caller. i wrote a deaf description for you, if you can even call it that. the whole endeavor was really an extrasensory experience. i’m pretty sure it’s not so much a ‘deaf description’ as much as it is a flawlessly accurate forecasting of what I’m Going Away will be and already is. really, i was as astounded as you surely will be after you’re through reading it, by it’s extreme precision and general uncanny-ness. just don’t ask me to do any more psychic visioning for you after this, it’s a one time deal, got it? unless you decide you want to take a trip and play at one of the fine venues in my hometown of WINNIPEG MANITOBA CANADA! then i might be convinced to dust off the ol’ crystal ball again. it’s kind of a hole here, not many folks come, and those who do mostly do it out of irony (i am of course referring to the white stripes), but i’m sure you kids could cheer the place up with your music-ings! and i can almost guarantee your car won’t get broken into! oh who am i kidding, it most certainly would be… anyways, here you go:
Iâm Going Away
a Deaf Description by Scott Fitzpatrick (big fan):
The Fiery Furnaces latest album âIâm Going Awayâ shows the band leaping off in an all new direction, far from anything they have explored on any of their previous albums. Although this departure canât come as too great a surprise, for the Furnaces have always proved a restless and aggressively ambitious pair. The first three tracks of this latest endeavor (theyâre sixth studio album (seventh if you count the full length âEPâ (eighth if you count the epic sprawling live album âRememberâ (ninth, tenth if you count Matthewâs double album release âWinter Women/Holy Ghost Language Schoolâ))) find the band trading in the garage guitars of Gallowsbirdâs Bark, the psychedelic synthesizers of Blueberry Boat and the pounding drums of Widow City for horns, strings, and lush orchestral arrangements. This may be jarring to fans of the bands usual fragmented pop-experiments, but not too jarring, since in typical Fiery fashion nothing stays in one place for very long. In a strange way, despite the drastic changes in instrumentation, the album really is quintessential Fiery Furnaces. Before you have a chance to really settle into this new scheme, Matt and Eleanor snap you back into the comfort of disorientation. The End Is Near ends abruptly and Charmaine Champagne bursts out of the gate with a heavy drum machine beat and distorted harmonica. Eleanor launches into a jumbled narrative verse in the mode of an old time auctioneer, calling to mind the vocal gymnastics and twisted plots of Rehearsing My Choir. The song is immediately a stand out single, and does a great job of showcasing what the Furnaces have done in the past, and what they are ready to do in the future. The next three tracks, Cut the Cake, Even in the Rain and Staring At the Steeple make up a suite that serves as the heart of the album. Over the course of the three songs (which collectively span Delta blues, Klezmer folk, Jamaican dub and Motown soul, all in the span of 8 Âœ minutes) Eleanor sings a heart-wrenching tale of a Portuguese arm-wrestling champion caught in a love triangle with a beautiful but blind cabaret singer and his psychoanalyst. Matt takes the lead on the lovely melancholic Ray Bouvier, biographing a fictional member of the Bouvier-Beale family, told mostly through the recital of old unfulfilled grocery lists. It is another of the albumâs standout tracks, reminiscent of earlier folk-pop tracks like Bright Blue Tie. Eleanor returns to the spotlight on Keep Me in the Dark, an a cappella number that is easily the strangest song on the album, possibly even in their whole catalogue. Lasting only a minute and twenty seconds, Keep Me in the Dark, which was recorded by having Eleanor sing backwards, then playing the backwards words backwards, flipping them forwards, is like front row seats at an exorcism. Lost at Sea finds the band turning their sights on the dancefloor, and showcases a bass beat that sounds straight out of Oh Sweet Woods and vocals wry and sarcastic enough to fit right at home on an LCD Soundsystem record. Itâs another standout single. Cups and Punches is a dizzying waltz, calling back some of the strings and horns we heard at the beginning of the album, but married with monster distorted guitar. Take Me Round Again gives the album a fitting conclusion. Featuring Eleanorâs strongest vocals to date, itâs a stingingly heartfelt ballad that could be the sequel to Teach Me Sweetheart, if only it werenât so strong on itâs own. Overall The Fiery Furnaces
sixth (or seventh (or eighth (or tenth))) album is a fantastic achievement. Itâs an electrical storm in a pawn shop. Itâs jumper cables on palm trees. Itâs a Guy Maddin movie nix the black and white and with only a fraction of the gloom. Itâs new, itâs ambitious and itâs challenging; itâs also enormously engaging, and it will only help to the further define the duo as one of the most exciting, most talented, and most ferociously creative groups making music today. I can honestly say that without having heard it even once, I know that Iâm Going Away is a stunning addition to an already stunning catalogue.
I wish I could write something smart, witty, funny but I’m not very good at it. The only thing that came to my mind was “I’m Going Away keeps the doctor away”. See, that’s pathetic…but I’m gonna try to write something a little better.
So here’s my deaf description:
“When griping grief the heart doth wound, and doleful dumps the mind oppress, then music with her silver sound with speedy help doth lend redress”. That’s what the Fiery Furnaces music is all about: it makes you smile, it makes you dream and travel in different places. Once you’ve heard their beautiful – and often moving – silver melodies, you can only feel happier. Their new album, I’m Going Away, is not an exception. It is “O, wonderful, wonderful, and most wonderful wonderful! and yet again wonderful! and after that, out of all whooping!”
1st quote: Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, Act IV, Scene V
2nd quote: Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act III, Scene II
I don’t really like it but I did my best. If you want to use it, feel free to correct all the mistakes I must have made. I quoted Shakespeare because 1) I worship him 2) I think that, in a way, you’re “a Shakespearian band”…in short, complex and brilliant
A Technicolor heart attack for fans of “Sloop John B,” and the earlier works of an obscure Russian poet that existed in an alternate reality, it immediately becomes apparent that this album is a danger to the very structure of space-time. Within minutes one is catapulted upon the backs of dinosaurs, and drinking from the cups of the most stylish libertines, only to realize they have been transformed into their favorite bird of prey. If it had a taste, it would be as much cream and sugar as hot lava and Yeti dandruff; but, fortunately, it smells very much like Eleanor’s hair.
01 “I’m Going Away”
This is the last Deaf Description I am writing. I thought I was all done, but then I realized I still had the title track to go. Okay, well it is probably the objective best song on the album. It is probably piano-driven and three and a half minutes long. But the thing that is really coming to mind on this matter is that one of the main reasons I love the Fiery Furnaces so much as I do is because the songs always remind me viscerally of exact moments in my life that I have lived, and I wonder how I lived that moment without the song playing in the background, and then I imagine that it was, only I couldn’t hear it, and then forever I associate certain songs with certain moments, and when I think of those certain moments, I hear the song. It is powerful and safe.The momentsof my life I am thinking about for “I’m Going Away” are:
-On the last day of 2008 I woke up alone on a houseboat in Los Angeles. I was tired and felt terrible, but I was excited for my first LA day. I was excited to get to wear shorts! Because it was snowy December back in Toronto. I put on a pair of skull-print khaki mini shorts and rode my friend Emily’s rusty bike down Venice Beach. I don’t ride a bike a lot, and I was exhausted, and hungry, and sad, and I was riding against the wind, and it gave me a migraine. It was grey out, and much too cold for shorts. My legs looked so pathetically white to me whenever I caught a glimpse of myself in a window. I felt so bad, but felt guilty about feeling so bad. I locked up the bike, which was hard, and walked down Venice Beach. I had the worst culture shock of my life, and I went to see a tarot card reader. That was nice, but then I left, and felt disoriented and bad again. All I wanted to do in the world was drink a drink. I have an arbitrary rule I impose in my head that 6 PM is the time when it becomes acceptable to start drinking. But I felt so bad that I decided I would make an exception. I decided that, if it was 3 PM, I could drink a drink. I knew it wasn’t 3 PM, so I walked around depressedly a bit more, and then decided that it was probably 3 PM, so I checked the time on my phone. IT WAS ELEVEN O CLOCK IN THE MORNING. I really wanted to Go Away.
- But I think this song is more breezy than that. Not a happy song, but emotionally kind of neutral. A few weeks ago, my friend Patty and I were sitting at my ktichen table. The floor is black and white checkered. It was very late at night/very early in the morning. We were buzzy drunk, in a girlsy swirlsy way. Our friendship is very much that. We had just been having an hours-long conversation about our opinions on the different “Friends” characters. And then out of the blue, Patty shouted “Christmas is just around the corner!” and it was one of the funniest things I’d ever heard. I laughed so hard that I felt like I had just done a thousand sit-ups. I laughed because it felt so weird to hear someone say “Christmas is just around the corner!” in the middle of April. It kind of “blew my mind.”
So I think that “I’m Going Away” is a mix of that deep, heavy need to escape, but also something unexpected, something that you’ve never heard before. Something that means something new.
02 “Drive to Dallas”
Rollicking, and probably the most rock-and-roll track on the album. Fuzzy, grindy, chompy, guitar-driven. Maybe some “revving up the engine” sound effects like in Jan & Dean songs about drag racing. A southern-inflected take on Jan & Dean. A celebration of driving. Car honks, big semis, but not Sweet Home Alabama esque in any way. Not “country rock.” Not honky-tonk. Maybe some knee-slapping and foot-stomping however. And a tambou. No harmonicas, though.
03 “The End is Near”
I would guess that this might be very dahhhhhk and dirge-like, but the Fiery Furnaces like to be contrary, so it’s probably ba-ba-ba pop. Which is a good thing, to turn our preconceptions on their head like that. Why do we always assume that “the end” has to be bad, and maybe even if it is a bad end, who really knows? Perhaps death is awesome.
04 “Charmaine Champagne”
Baroque. Baroquey-doquey. Barokey-dokey. Maybe Rococo. Baroquoquo, queydoquey
05 “Cut the Cake”
A very allergic vocal. Like nasally, and with sniffles.
06 “Even in the Rain”
It’s hard to say. But the other day I was talking to someone about the rain, and how people will let the rain affect how their life feels more than almost anything. I was talking about this as proof that astrology is real, because if people will allow the rain to mean SO MUCH, than why can they not agree that the phase of the moon can do the same? If you get fired and it is raining out, the rain makes it worse. If you kiss someone you like for the first time and it is raining out, the rain makes it better. The rain is a powerful force. All I can hope for is that this song is an homage to the power of the rain, or maybe to people’s overestimation of the rain’s power. This song might be measured up against “Rain” by the Beatles, but “Rain” by the Beatles is a happy song. I feel like this one is going to be funereal. Very traditionally funereal. I hope you went to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and visited the world’s largest pipe organ, the Wanamaker Organ, and you played the piano part on the Wanamaker Organ, heavy-handedly, and recorded it on a bad recording, so that it sounds far away. I hope this song gives people a headache, like a dull thudding one, at your temples, so you are so awash in your headache pain that it is barely even pain at all. I hope this song is pleasantly uncomfortable, like flossing your teeth until your gums bleed.
07 “Staring at the Steeple”
Light and harpischordy, like a small town, and a dress with a hoop skirt and lace, and bonnets, sunshine so white you have to squint, frolicky, bluebells, and it is a girl on the day of her wedding. My favourite book in the world is “The Member of the Wedding” by Carsons McCullers. If this song was based on “The Member of the Wedding” by Carson McCullers, I would be the happiest person in the world. But I think that this song should be less Southern Gothic than “The Member of the Wedding,” and more light-hearted. “Gaiety” would be in the lyrics.
08 “Ray Bouvier”
I guess this is a song about the story of a man named Ray Bouvier, and it depends on who he is, what the song would sound like- but I get the impression that he’s a very masculine guy, who would wear red plaid, and is Quebecois. I hope this song is heavy on the CANADIANA. I want the Fiery Furnaces to write a very, very Canadian song, though the essence of Canada is hard to pin down, especially if you are not from Canada. I think Americans would have a tough time writing a Canadian song without being a little condescending, and making fun of us, but if there’s one band that could do it, I know it would be the Fiery Furnaces, It would be “Ray Bouvier” by the Fiery Furnaces.
09 “Keep Me in the Dark”
Toast, halos, a long path and the lights you see (halos). Wearing a long dress and keeping toast in your pockets. You are nibbling at it.
10 “Lost At Sea”
I think this is the sad one, the one that “The End is Near” isn’t. Because it is about the sea, I hope it would sound intangibly “salty” somehow. Actually, something I was thinking was that Charmaine Champagne might be a song where all the lyrics would be the names of different types of alcoholic beverages, or people’s names based around different types of alcoholic beverages, who had personalities to match the idea of the alcoholic beverage. Maybe this song could be about people who drink Salty Dogs. I really like songs that are lists of a bunch of different types of one thing, like fruit, or the signs of the Zodiac, or cigarette brands. A cool idea for a song would be a note for note cover of “Friends of Mine” by the Zombies, only instead of the names of Colin Blunstone’s friends who are in solid relationships, you would sing all the names that are featured in Beatles songs. I really doubt that “Lost At Sea” is a note-for-note cover of “Friends of Mine” with Beatles song-names, but on sais jamais!
11 “Cups and Punches”
This song is the one I am most excited about based on the title, but anytime I say the name of it in my head I start singing it to the tune of a song called “Dogs in Baskets” by a band called Geranium Pond, which was on a mix CD that a man made for me when I was 16. It is a terrible 60s bubblegum-psych song, and I would sing it to my best friend in high school to be annoying. It had a bubble sound effect, like in “Brainiac’s Daughter” by the Dukes of Stratosphear, almost exactly the same sound effect. I hope “Cups and Punches” has a bubble sound effect, since the best kind of punch is the carbonated kind. When I was a little kid in Canada there was a drink on the market called Tahiti Treat (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tahitian_Treat). I was never allowed to drink it because it would rot my teeth, except for after gymnastics class once a week. I looked so forward to it. I hope that the punch this song is talking about is Tahiti Treat, and that the song sounds like the exact sonic equivalent of the taste of Tahiti Treat. That would be my favourite song ever.
(What Geranium Pond look like: http://www.marmalade-skies.co.uk/gpond.jpg)
12 “Take Me Round Again”
A little boring, but pretty. Provencale. Like a big wooden table with loaves of leavened bread and white clinky vases full of lilacs. I don’t know what leavened means. It must be hopeful, because s/he already took him/her around once, and now she wants it to happen again. I relate to that, only in my life right now it would be called “Take me to Starbucks again, or maybe for a drink this time so I can be less inhibited”. I think it will happen again. For the narratrix of the song, I mean, though hopefully for me as well. But I don’t think she is freaking out about it. I think she knows she’ll be taken round again. Maybe in one of those old-fashioned cars, like the one driven by Cruella DeVille’s accomplices in “101 Dalmatians.”
Laura Jane Faulds
The Fiery Furnaces ăI’m Going AwayăïŒThrill JockeyïŒ
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by Y. Morihara
we have, once again in the aughties, the freidburgers, eleanor and matt, conjuring on i’m going away. they are up to their ears mashing up simple minimalist composer melodies (like charlamagne palestine and mozart) with intricate melodies of the folk and video game genres [elizabeth cotten, odetta, the allen brothers with grand auto theft, final fantasy (not to be confused with that 2-bit violinist), tetris and pong].
there are more sound effects than ever. they are increasingly layered on top of each other until they ultimately construct a white wall of sound (influenced by the live pedal set up of the yeah yeah yeahs guitarist nick zinn) (lost at sea). and then they all fall away, pierced through its white-noise heart by a jaunty walk along the piano keyboards by both brother and sister (cups and punches).
they share vocal duties again. their voices mingle like filigree, like cyclists in amsterdam. eleanor’s range is not huge but she puts more feelings than ever before in each note. by the end i am laughing or crying hysterically like those dolls of our youth. eleanor’s voice is the string. she may sing about eating hot dogs in central park (the end is near) or at dawn, dropping a glass of dom perignon because she sneezed and taking out her rage for this stupidity by flinging a nutella crepe at a bratty cross-eyed 5 year old refugee boy from burma eating charmin toilet paper sheet by sheet in jardin du luxembourg (charmaine champagne) or locking eyes with a vacationing alaskan trawler emigrated from papua new guinea on a tram driven by a bosnian war criminal on the lam in berlin who doesn’t break for strays (take me round again), but she sings it with the feeling of oum kalthoum or billie holiday. eleanor’s rhythm and timing are as flawless as ever. matt sings about war criminals who plant only annuals and eat nothing but rodent ears (even in the rain) as well as wizards (whose starry white powders could transform a palace into a tent city or vice versa but not free them the train wreck of life – that is, ending up working at the wal-mart in the suburbs of deleuth). the wizards are hostages in cargo trains on the way to deleuth with the entire world’s supply of black currents in peril and for ransom (keep me in the dark)! he sings lackadaisically but purposefully. she’s the coffee and he’s the pretzel.
the dub production gives it that more than just a vacation feel, for it simultaneously reenacts the suffering of being stuck in traffic. yes, jason lowenstein, engineers this by pressing some buttons and turning a few knobs. yes, he, through the help of indian dance, balkan wolves who founded everything from rome to belgrade, and a godly good ear, offers us in each and every nanosecond of these songs the paradox of, the double-bladed dagger of the caribbean vibe in opposition to the drab world of being trapped on a continent that has celebrex parties which this endeavor is all about escaping.
it isn’t easy to get away if you have to drive through dallas. that’s a long city. that’s why some of the songs are long: drive to dallas and take me round again are about 15 minutes and change a piece.
buy the album. it’s even available in braille and as a cochlear implant.
I’m Going Away – a consideration
I’m Going Away, the keenly awaited third album from one-time-hotly-tipped Canadian folk music siblings The Fiery Furnaces, is a record of contrasts. The first thing which strikes the listener, post needle-drop, is the radical overhaul the band’s sound seems to have undergone since the mellowed-out ska of Widow City. Here, hire-purchase synthesisers battle with non-vintage drum machines and heavily compressed tape loops of weather forecasts. This isn’t to say I’m Going Away sets out to alienate longtime FF fans – Mathew’s androgynous vocal recitations remain very much at the forefront of proceedings, backed by sister Eleanor’s familiar barrage of Beatlesy chord progressions, Belew-ine guitar and Fall-esque bass.
Opening song Calamity of Belfast (Revisited) sets the scene, with a drainingly complex narrative detailing an itinerants search for his lost bowler hat in a crowded billiard hall. Although this may sound like worryingly familiar territory for the Fierys, normal service is eschewed by an uncharacteristically downbeat ending to the work, with sombre, phased trombones parping out an arhythmic death march over the real sound of lamentation.
Next up are a couple of short punkish numbers which deal, in turn, with gravity, Dream On and the adolescence of Felix Mendelssohn, all in wildly enjoyable vein. These, however, act as a mere prelude to I’m Going Away’s centrepiece, in which the ever-interactive Furnaces have recorded a seventeen minute collage of fragments based around what people on the internet thought the album’s fourth song would sound like. It’s fair to say that this constitutes the highlight of their recorded output to date, even if the dramatization of the Lindburgh Baby kidnap is in rather poor taste.
Album finale Teenage Bishops expresses a number of very beautiful sentiments and flips the Friedburger script by putting the gorgeous melody before the ten minutes of lopsided analogue synth sequences and staying in a stately waltz time throughout. Watch out for Lumidee’s uncredited guest appearance!
All in all, I’m Going Away comes across as a resounding continuation of the Fiery Furnaces’ recent run of good form and should act as a worthy companion piece to their forthcoming recipe book, Gallowbird Pork.
Devoted fans that pompously believe that they are one of the few people that truly “gets” the Fiery Furnaces might be in for a bit of a shock with their new album, I’m Going Away. Rather than sticking with their guns and producing another 60-70 minute album containing at least 15 tracks, what listeners are treated to here is vastly different: 12 concise tracks that wrap up around the 45-minute mark. Furthermore, the songs themselves feature fall less fussy arrangements, instead traveling down a decidedly more straightfoward, simple path.
Those pretentious fanboys shouldn’t shout “Blasphemy!” just yet however, since even from the tinkling keys that begin the rather moody opener and title track, it’s never a question of which band’s record you’re listening to. Because while there might be an obvious focus on restraint, that doesn’t mean a loss of ideas. On the contrary, the Friedberger siblings have never sounded more confident and comfortable in the own skins, as Eleanor commands every track with her emotion-filled singing, while her brother Matthew seemingly handles everything else with incredible grace.
For a great example of this new approach in action, look no further than the quietly heartbreaking and beautiful album centerpiece “Even in the Rain.” Over, or rather hiding within a wash of understated synths and light hand percussion, Eleanor gently whisper-sings some of the vaguest, yet strangely intimate lyrics she’s ever penned. And even you think the song couldn’t get any better, just wait until the surprising driving bridge where Eleanor stands up and delivers the incredibly direct line, “You left when I looked seventeen. Why did you leave?” It’s haunting and gorgeous all at once, and it’s certainly the best musical moment the Furnaces have ever conjured.
And although the duo may never be able to one-up that track, it’s a testament to the rest of the album that they come close several times. Although similarly restrained, tracks like “Staring at the Steeple” and “Lost at Sea” are some of the prettiest songs the band has ever written, with the former following a plaintive piano melody to a particularly beautiful climax of strumming acoustic guitars, while the latter, although slightly more energetic, still goes a long way toward keeping the mood of the entire record melancholy, yet hopeful (just listen closely to the small electric guitar arpeggios during the chorus). Still, listeners who want a bit more of a kick have their favorite songs already mapped out for them in the surprisingly hard-rocking and bitter “The End Is Near” and other peppy pop songs such as “Cut the Cake” and “Cups and Punches.”
The most important, and best thing to take from “I’m Going Away” is that the Fiery Furnaces are still the same well-loved (and sometimes quite hated) psuedo-pop band that knocked out the classic “Blueberry Boat” a few years ago. However, if “I’m Going Away” is any indication, the band is showing that sometimes the best way to show that you’re up for anything is to step back and do something exceedingly brave: lay it on the line and make your quiet record. The Fiery Furnaces have…and they’re all the better for it.
01 Iâm Going Away – looking out sighs, rain on the window, engine hum, hard wood being hit slowly.
02 Drive to Dallas – pink noise, soft shoe scrapping, green flecks of paint splashing on neon tubes.
03 The End Is Near – boom, bang, rocking chair creaks, low hum, rustling leaves.
04 Charmaine Champagne – squeals of joy, slapping of lips, fub-fub, cork squeak.
05 Cut the Cake – fragments of voice, slow dipping bass throb, clash of steels, fizzzzz.
06 Even in the Rain – clip, clop, mumble, electric.
07 Staring at the Steeple – choirs, wing flapping, cymbal roll, green grass blowing.
08 Ray Bouvier – theramin wail, waves, flash bulbs, clink of ice on glass, rattle.
09 Keep Me in the Dark – screaming softly yet urgently, flick of a switch, grrr grrrr thhhuuurrrmmmp.
10 Lost At Sea – open hand clap, fluttering flute, sea swell on an old stone wall.
11 Cups and Punches – bamb, thwawk, chattering laughter on shiny wooden floors, kettle click.
12 Take Me Round Again – zooming cars, engine throb, crescendo of strings, loose fitting teeth rubbing on soar gums.
Hope this is of some use!
thank you for your music!
ANdy Callaby (aka fat benjamin)
I had bottomed out, I had hit rock bottom & that’s where I found Jesus.
A broken whiskey glass on the bathroom floor & that was where he found me.
I tried to calm my wife as my friends say she’s worried & worried all about me.
So I packed my bags, headed for Las Vegas & that’s where I met Satan. That’s where I met Satan.
I had to take the Greyhound from Peterborough to Scarborough on a Sunday night in May. Luckily, I had the new album in my walkman and my high quality German headphones. I hadn?t listened to it yet. I got on the bus and turned on the walkman. The length of the album corresponded with the length of the trip exactly. I hit play and the bus backed out of the terminal ? if you could call it that. I looked at the album?s jacket: ?I’m Going Away.? I read as we left the city. The first two songs were good. The drunk behind me had passed out and was breathing his rummy breath on his seatmate. The seatmate, in turn, had has face pressed upwardly to, with his mouth aimed at the fresher air streaming out of, the vent above the window. A child asked her dad: ?Is the end near?? and passed some graffiti on a building which read ?The end is near?, just as I neared the end of ?The end is near?. It was then that I realized the bus trip and the album had become one. I also became aware that everyone in the band was on the bus. Indeed, the bassist was driving. I was suddenly very self-conscious that I was listening to their work. In order to forget this feeling, I concentrated on every single detail that my ?Krautphones?, as my French uncle calls them, reproduced with high fidelity. ?The Hun?, as he would have said, had done a fine job; I could hear every single sound on the album. During the last seven songs ? which actually comprise one long drum solo with arbitrarily assigned track numbers and names ? I could clearly hear a man, presumably the drummer, rapidly giving instructions to the drummer, presumably a woman. The grunts that had been quite audibly recorded by the high-hat microphone were definitely feminine. Moreover, it was a good drum solo, and with the last crash of the cymbals I pulled into the Scarborough Bus Station, which was just a mall.
beat boxing through an electric kazoo to Tubular Bells, backwards, with
lab rats, with bells on, running across the old piano, and then the tone
and they jump
a bad night in barcelona
a ray davies composition
my surging heartbeat underwater upon plunging into the spring sea
layers of dueling pianos
Following a show here in St. Louis in 2007, I suggested to Eleanor that she should consider doing a solo album like her big brotherâwhich for her I imagined would be a more personal and less extravagantly produced fare than a typical Fiery Furnaces CD (not that there is anything less than entirely fantastic about your extravagantly produced albums thus far, but even Beck had Mutations). At the time, I believed my words had been drowned out by my friend Barry Logan’s drunken ballyhooing that Eleanor try some his Tibetan black tea, which he had brought in leaf form in a small plastic bag, and which Eleanor naturally mistook for an illicit substance. The chanteuse’s hasty exit indicated to me that my suggestion had fallen on deaf ears (or at least ears startled by the sudden appearance of narcotics and/or foreign breakfast beverages).
Recently, I’ve read that I’m Going Away is, in fact, to feature more personal, less extravagantly produced fare than your typical Fiery Furnaces CD, apparently more along the lines of songs âPolice Sweater Blood Vow.â This, of course, is exactly the kind of album I had in mind that cold night in St. Louis, and I am forced to face the fact that the best rock band in the world (that’s you) take my career advice very, very seriously.
I’m deeply honored by this responsibilityâwhich you should know I do not take lightly. After careful contemplation, I’ve dreamed up a few more suggestions.
Such as: When the the Democ-Rock deal and the âSilent Albumâ are complete, the Fiery Furnaces should compose an album that perfectly maps upon an existing film, a la Dark Side of the Moon and The Wizard of Oz. Tell everyone that the album works as a soundtrack to a movie, but don’t reveal which movie. Secretly, the movie will be Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. (Or maybe West Side Storyâif there is one thing that movie could use, it’s some good music.)
The music sits you down, hissing. It sits opposite, slopes into you, squeezing your knee.
Voices sound great save for a few syllables wrong or missing. The music moves nervously, like it’s hiding from its own tail. Lying low with eyes either side of its head. Eleanor chases and spits.
The Fiery Furnaces are back with their 7th studio album in six years, and it may just be their best offering yet. Taking their pension for conceptual narrative to new extremes, I’m Going Away is set in the 26th century and tells the story of a pair of gay astronauts who find love early on in their lives, only to be tragically separated for thirty years, always searching for their lost love. Incorporating italo-disco beats, lazer noises, and entire songs sung in alien tongues, I’m Going Away is more than a little reminiscent of Jeff Wayne’s 1978 prog musical cult classic, War of the Worlds. However, it’d be foolish to expect the Friedbergers to keep things so straightforward– I’m Going Away features a narrative subplot about the ghost of a southern belle who haunts a planet in a distant solar system where the spirits of all civil war veterans go to spend eternity. For this portion of the album, the Furnaces adopt a folksy, country style that would sound more lo-fi than anything else they’ve done– if it weren’t for the unlikely sounds of a moog synthesizer emulating the cosmic noise of a meteor shower, spinning these Bill Callahan-esque moments of introspection into something more layered and complex. Finally, the standout track on the album follows neither of the aformentioned musical plot threads: “Dilletante,” a collaboration with Jens Lekman, is an homage to the twee schoolyard nostalgia of Belle & Sebastian. Substituting Glasgow for Beverly Hills, “Dilletante” tells the tale of a shy, sensitive background character on the early 90’s TV classic, “Beverly Hills 90210,” and how she became a victim of social torture at the hands of Brenda Walsh.
I read an article today about Franz Kline and how he accidently blew up an illustration of a chair and projected it onto a wall and the detail was so large that he become obsessed with the abstract pattern it made.
I want to enlarge your music; take a small sample and live in that for a few days.
Memories of long summers, scratched and broken records skipping to favourite bits, the whole long childhood days.
Then those bright shiney glints that make the rest of the while.. worth while.
Your music is glorious, happy and beautiful and always touched with a tinge of sadness, I can’t believe I cried.
Make music. Like the abstract chair. The detail. The tiny but sharp little glints of light.
Remember the chair and what Franz Kline saw.
Hello Fiery Furnaces!
Here’s my deaf review:
The Fiery Furnacesâ seventh studio album, Iâm Going Away, continues the bandâs long-standing tradition of completely psyching out their fans. In this new record, the Friedbergers turn up the intensity and distortion of their sound and record some of their darkest, grittiest tracks to date. Collaborating with a wide and impressive range of musicians including Thurston Moore and Kevin Shields, the Fiery Furnaces incorporate heavy shoegaze and noise rock elements in Iâm Going Away while still maintaining the spontaneous quirkiness that often drives their songwriting.
Eleanor continues to expand and experiment with different styles of vocal delivery, even incorporating screaming and yelping in the epic, nine-minute length, âKeep Me in the Dark.â And in the opening title-track, she even free styles alongside Atmosphere in a no-holds-bar rap battle.
Needless to say, Iâm Going Away is easily the Fiery Furnacesâ most epic and experimental album to date, yet once again, the band isnât shy to include their own sense of stylistic, over-the-top humor within the heavy, more serious tone of the album. Expect to be surprised in every song; it may take multiple listens to stomach the album as a whole. Not for the fainthearted.
Delirious doesnât even begin to describe it. For a group already well known for their staggering gumption and spitfire hubris, the Fiery Furnaces have attempted on their latest studio album Iâm Going Away to recreate the entirety of American popular music, from Dixie land brass bands to Lady Gaga, in an epic experiment just shy of 80 minutes. But this isnât simply a linear retelling of the story, where Robert Johnson walks up to the crossroads and takes a left; instead, in the Friedbergersâ vision, all possible paths are explored at the same time. The result is a complete alternate history, in which salty sea shanties are sung in the dusty plains of Texas, carousel waltzes are regular staples in underground hardcore shows, and Burl and Charles Ives share not only a surname, but a bunk bed and a four-track.
The album starts with a sputtering drum machine and dueling barroom pianos. The title track, a traditional folk tune about disappointment and longing, serves as a departure point for the westward bound story arc of the album takes. In it, Eleanor sings of a man who stole all her money, which she didnât find very funny, as her justification for going away. The album progresses on âDriving to Dallas,â where the railroad rhythm of the title track picks up steam until itâs moving at the speed of light-rail, nailed down with an industrious one-chord hammer-on rockânâroll riff and whirring flashes of pedal steel and celeste. Spitting sibilance and Teutonic tongue-twisters, Eleanor begins to unveil some of the specific characters who crop up in this loosely themed album, which ultimately involves vivid tales of encounters with mischievous fur trappers, reluctant oil barons, theosophist lumberjacks, virgin soldiers, and depressive swim instructors.
One of the more memorable characters is Ray Bouvier, who first appears on the ballad âRay Bouvier.â Itâs an unusual story about an introverted carpenter whose arranged marriage is threatened by his increasing obsession with Willard Van Orman Quineâs theory of semantic holism. Perhaps not unintentionally, the song is complimented with a jarring guitar solo that echoes the work of Quineâs punk rock nephew, Robert.
Occasionally, the slapdash hybridization of styles the Furnaces experiment with turn out beautifully. Case in point: âThe End is Near,â which is essentially an 8-bit blues jam with a wicked electric banjo breakdown. The modest incorporation of autotune during the second bridge assures this songâs success as the albumâs lead single. At other times, the experiment is less successful. The ragtime/afro-funk fusion of âCharmaine Champagne,â for instance, is a series of syncopated snafus that is only salvaged from complete humiliation thanks to Jason Loewensteinâs dexterous handling of a vintage Theremin throughout the chorus.
Thereâs a lot to wrap your head around on this record. From the phantasmagoric âLost at Sea,â which features two distinct mixes of polytonal power chords shredding simultaneously through each speaker channel, to the paisley pop of âCups and Punches,â which features Matthew Friedberger rapping â yes, rapping â throughout the verses, Iâm Going Away is easily the Fiery Furnacesâ most ambitious and least focused album to date. Perhaps we could have asked for a little less sousaphone and a little more wah-pedalled organ, but as far as summer albums are concerned, this oneâs a blockbuster.
….and that’s it! Can’t wait to hear the real deal when it’s finished, and please come back to St. Louis sometime soon.
The new Fiery Furnaces album……
Taxonomic nomenclature taken with bell tolls to the extreme
Wanderings of mused minstrels making mashups with potatoes
Simultaneous Moog introductions blended with tailored torrential denouements
Incontinental interruptions eloping alongside silver moons and berjal pickles
Elephantitizzz on the chicken foot hop, lopsided dosey-do and charleston
All that and a packet of luau crisps and we’ll call it a party!
this could be easily described as the furnaces excursion into 60’s avant garde / free jazz. miles davis or charles mingus would be proud of it. there’s even a bossa nova touch that left me wanting for another cocktail by the pool. oh and those saxophones… devil must be a sax player.
“I’m Going Away” and so am I
a review by tad km
Before I even begin this review, let’s cut to the chase: I ingested three casino-grade rabbit tranquilizers and drank a pot of local coffee in preparation for my inaugural listen.Minus the rabbit tranks, I considered approaching I’m Going Away much like any other Fiery Furnace project, expecting the worst, hoping for the best. This time I decided to insist on the best and prepare for something magnificent. My five year old had run off with the head phones to conduct some stalactite/cave mucus experiment, so I was forced to listen al dente. I opened every window I could find and turned the stereo up to 38.
I half expected the record to be Remember, repackaged, just as a Greil Marcus masturbation-type promo. Nope. It began in liquid Friedburger state, not exactly up the river, but it sounded much like wherever the hell my baby went. If open heart surgery had a pinball game named after it, this was clearly the bonus level. At least for now. I don’t know why anyone, much less Matthew or Elanor, planned on going away, but the vapor made following difficult, required and tasty. I ordered another song and it chased me around the room until I closed each window, first the last then the first, all the way to the middle window. I couldn’t have my neighbors thinking I enjoyed this type of Texas-oriented lemon-squeezing aphrodisiac nightmare music. My car was trapped in the garage, thank Oswald, or else it would hopped highway 41 with or without me. My stupid Subaru always took song-titles so literally.
I called my therapist to see if I had clearance to listen to “The End is Near.” I explained that if White Noise taught me anything, death was the end and the end was something I’d better think about constantly, even when not at the supermarket or in my wife’s embrace. I told her Americana had me sold at page 161, but Delillo lost the wheel beyond that. She asked how I got her home number and told me to drop dead. I missed the song as a result, but my subconscious told me it was like a ticker-tape water slide that some summer high school girl lit on fire just before the middle age guy strapped himself into an offensively yellow tubular device.
The less I say about Charmaine Champagne, the better, so I will just warn you: it’s got nothing to do with that Christopher Walken skit. I decided to take a little walk to the kitchen and grab a slice of something. Fortunately, it was cake. As I cut it I figured the next song would be a beta-ray search function mini-novella about Chet Lemon’s risky spleen surgery…fortunately, it was about cake. I cut it and decided against eating it. “Even in the Rain” reminded me that I had closed the window. I opened them and dared my neighborhood to dispute the Fiery Furnaces. The song began with a burst of tympani that would make Bright Eyes blush, followed my something that sounded like a machine gun being played in a bath tub filled with aloe Vera. It is my favorite song since Japanese Slippers.
I can’t say what impact the rabbit tranks have had, but the coffee is perhaps over-compensating. My son is outside raving about Caves to Henry and Charlie. Henry would rather quote Toy Story and that crappy Clone War animated feature. Alie said I should finish the review in time for Lucy’s nap. She didn’t look tired. But then again, she had yet to hear the second half of I’m Going Away. No, I’m not retrospectively writing this to imply that the second half was boring. I don’t know yet, because I am writing this in real time. If I knew how to broadcast my words live to all you slaves on the internet, I would but you’re just gonna have to wait till…right now! “Staring at the Steeple”, I was hoping, would sound like Phil Spector’s last pistol shot, baby…but it was more like what a harmonica might sing on her off day. I loved it like you love the way you used to be.
I closed the windows again, this time right in order. Henry looked slow and tired. Coen was digging his 33rd Carl’s Cavern in our new spider-infested sand-octopus. I took off my shirt and drink a liter of water. The next song began, but I don’t care what it’s called. The plot seemed to center around the boxes one checks when ordering facial hair next day air. I never imagined enough boxes existed to create such melodic confusion, but then again, they are the Fiery Ones. Finally, the sun entered the room with ‘keep me in the dark”, a harrowing, straight-laced confessional, itemizing each mistake the Friedberger siblings had made that day. I think even the greatest Gabbanelli accordions supporter would forgive Eleanor her transgressions, but I’ve never met a Jehovahâs witness that liked a palm full of vegetable oil. For shame, Matthew.
Moving along, the record concludes with an unintentionally deliberate trio, linked, of all ways, by way of trilogy. “Lost at Sea” began with the sound of a mallard getting an erection and closed with the Obi-won-Kenobi retracting his light saber. I was in love again! It runs directly into “Cups and Punches” (which was rumored to have been co-written by Christopher Guest) much like a hot front slides into a thunder storm. I was expecting something cute, but does a hand grenade stapled to the thigh of your Physical Science teacher as he’s catapulted over the bleachers while the band plays “Owed t’alex” in an all-trombone review sound cute to you? I’ll let you be the judge. The viola solo was a nice touch, though. I kept one eye alert for Lucy, who had just become the first 19 month old child to clean the refrigerator and decided to turn “Take me Round Again” up to 41.5. It was worth it.
I don’t want to spoil the ending, but I guarantee you this much: expect rain, chase the crazies off with a hot shower, expect to see the Milwaukee Brewers back in the playoffs and don’t, I repeat, do not miss a chance to spend the day with ‘I’m Going Away.”
What isn’t necessarily revealed through the tracklisting or its subsequent lyrics, through the credits and thank you’s or even in the enclosed essay (entitled: The Briefest of Suppositions – The Slow Revelations of I’m Going Away by Matthew Friedburger and Kazuo Ishiguro) but rather in the series of lenticular collages that grace the panels of the liner notes isn’t the fact that this is the most harmonically audacious in the Fiery Furnacers oeuvre or even that Ms. Friedburger continues to bury a number of capable singer in the glassine wake of the utter devastation her wonderful voice wrecks but almost simply, very quietly, with all caution and care and gentle reverence that this record could’ve been called Eleven Poems of Love and a Song of Despair with no irony and all due caution granted.
Lyrically, Mr. Friedburger channels Tom Stoppard via Maurice Sendak dragging his protagonists through the variegations of a semblance of existence. Whether they are leaving their childhood homes or making advances in game theory or bringing kittens back to life or learning that there is an order to all things in Thunderbolt Georgia, there is verve and terror and an ever lucid conceptual delineation between our guileless hope for affection and the inevitability of abandonment.
Yes, there isn’t a ten minute song one can watch bloom and blossom; riding without training wheels for the first time, trying out for varsity lacrosse and meeting his future fiance so akwardly that sunny September on the well groomed banks of Lake Norman. Yes, there might be too much kalimba. Yes, we still grieve the absence of Mr. Friedburger’s singing nonetheless, I’m Going Away is ebuillient and sonorous, meticulously constructed and fitting for any sort of late night garden party or plaintive sunday morning getting ready for church. So if you have thirteen dollars, if you can part with an hour of your time, there is a record by a band called The Fiery Furnaces that might be as suitable as anything else.
Had the phrase “ad hominem” not been coined millenia ago by the Romans, it would have to be invented today to attack/describe the Fiery Furnaces’ derivative LP “I’m Going Away”. This album is bad news emanating from the soulless depths of bad people.
To give you a hint: three songs about macaroni-and-cheese, four sea shanties, one cover of an old toothpaste jingle from the 1940s, and a 36-minute rambling opus about a racquetball-related knee injury suffered during a drive to Dallas.
Well, here’s a sound these filching Friedbergers ought to become familiar with: the sound of J.Lo’s lawyers threatening to sue! This is plagiaristic tripe, mostly, right down to the farfisa solos and the chant-like Old Norse background vocals.
Except for that “Charmaine Champagne” song. That one’s cool. Case closed!
I am doing dusk loops in my skywriting bi-plane (sans hygrometer) and I would like to point out to the stenographer and the band that “The End is Near” actually has two alternative suffixes. There is a spectral “ly” – (”The End is Nearly”) and also “ly Ending” (”The End is Nearly Ending”). I’m aware that you included these in the song subtext and really appreciate it, since this means, so to speak, that the song stalks longer wonders.
“The End is Near” is therefore a sonic Mobius strip, so the beginning is also always near. It is quite an experience to hear both Alpha and Omega superimposed on top of each other, in the moment together.
This is also evident in the instrumentation of mouth-harp accents from the coda, which, you realize as the track ends, have been grafted on to the distorted tuba prelude. Both sections appear to be played through a wax screen (forced hot air melts through a jazz scale like Icarus).
The lyrics sublimate from solid to gas at 0:45, as Apollo takes his hot rope chariot, hopefully, under the cliff (he was supposed to tumble over it) and makes a pass at a higher trope. Percussion atomizes at 1:27 in a brilliant utopia of dopey myopia.
This track is a two-way compassion blam grandfathered in from the traditional bookends of The Infinite Man. The amygdala and the prefrontal cortex have never got along better.
A THOROUGH DEAF-DESCRIPTION/UN-READ IMAGINING/REMIX OF THE FIERY FURNACES’ I’M GOING AWAY AS IMAGINED BY SPENCER DAVID MACEACHERN, HAVING HONESTLY NOT LISTENED TO THE RECORD, WHICH USED ALL HIS GOD-GIVEN WILL POWER AND RESTRAINT:
DISCLAIMER: As apposed to listening to the record on vinyl or compact disc, I imagined listening to the record on some vintage cassette tape, on some real old school Panasonic walk-man. This of course leaves room for some loss of quality, especially after the cassette tape has been played back-to-back over the course of a baker’s dozen months, and the batteries are slowly wearing out. I also imagined the record to be a linear-story of a concept album, though I’m sure it very much isn’t, at least to the extremes I’ve gone!
1. I’M GOING AWAY – The minute-long introduction consisting of horns playing atonal chords reminds me a little of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, and it’s a little jarring. I can hear the spit valves on the trumpets are in desperate need of emptying. I figure this introduction is to illustrate the madness and chaos the “protagonist” experiences that ultimately makes him/her want to leave where they are. When it all fades out and is replaced by winsome electric keyboard and sloppy bass, I know everything’s going to be okay. “Look at this place, you know I’m going away. You can tell by my face it’s happ’nin’ today.” What a catchy, though melancholic refrain! The verses break the catchiness by telling the story of why he/she has decided to leave wherever she is-that doesn’t get revealed, fortunately. I’ve decided at this point that he/she is actually a she. ‘She’ has lost her job, her pet iguana got back the plague, and her boyfriend left her for her twin sister, ain’t it a shame? She hints at something else, says “But worst of all, I–” and that’s all we get! Of course the verses tell the story over and over again, in English, French and Spanish as to appeal to and garner the sympathy of a wider audience, though the chorus remains the same. I dig!
2. DRIVE TO DALLAS – Urgent, thumping drum-lines over Character’s vocals: “El Paso, ah hell-no! Austin, be lost in! San’tonio, I don’t know. Big Bend ain’t a friend. Looks like Dallas I will call my palace!” BAM! She’s made her decision, and the band play suiting, driving lines-literally-underneath. They are slightly reminiscent of “L.A. Woman” or “Magic Carpet Ride,” though with better bass-parts and less indulgent keyboard/Manzarek lines, and certainly stronger than Steppenwolf, in all regards. I imagine there aren’t too many vocals in this track, as to really give the impression of time passing on the drive from ______ to Dallas.
3. THE END IS NEAR – “The end is near, we’re almost here. Now don’t look back, the past it lacks.” Lacks what? What was left out of the first song that you’re alluding to during this one? WHY DON’T YOU TELL ME WHAT’S GOING ON, I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU’RE RUNNING FROM? Despite my head scratching, this song is un-deniably a gem. I’m really into the glockenspiel part that shadows all the lyrics; it makes me think of Pinocchio and/or the consciousness of Jiminy Cricket. The back-up vocals that string together all the words that rhyme are also entertaining, sounds as though there was some sort of octave-switching effect used there: the inclusion of both the highs and lows are interesting! Is this to symbolize the character’s optimism and her pessimism? My dog barks when I play this one in the living room during these parts. Though I’m sure it’s the high-pitched vocals that really affect him, I like to think of the low “devil” parts as being what yanks his chain/leash.
4. CHARMAINE CHAMPAGNEâŠ must be one of the first people that our character meets upon their arrival in Dallas. She is dressed like a cross between a 70âs lounge singer and a Chinese peasant. I can only imagine what she does for a livingâŠ maybe a prostitute? Or indeed a legitimate Dallas lounge singer who dresses like a Chinese peasant? No clue. Bright, sunny pop guitars play straight/crunchy power chords while the Casio tinkers all over the place in the highest register the board allows, perchance to illustrate Charmaineâs enchanting persona and the fact that she might actually be a con. Our friend isnât too sure about this one either, as Champagneâupon discovering that she is new to Dallasâtakes her by the arm and runs her all around downtown Dallas; up on shopping-mall escalators, down to the dank basements of hotel bars, across the city via light rail, and finally to a bizarre Halloween-themed wedding. The crunchy power chords still seem summery, but the Casio warbles out of control, and the thumping of the drums spin and fall and get back up again to keep pace. The gradual tempo-pick up for the last forty seconds gets my heart beating, faster, faster, faster…
5. CUT THE CAKE â The Halloween themed wedding is orchestrated byâand forgive me for self-alluding something an awful lot like âCabaret of the Seven Devilsâ. In fact, this could be the lame/ugly sister of that track: âI walked inside the hall with her palm still on my arm, she turned to me noisy shouted, âHoney, donât-cha be alarmed!ââ Character too seems a little eased by this, having now seen the rational explanation for Charmaineâs wardrobe. What a place! Character spits out the narration like the more jazz-tinged moments of Joni Mitchellâs career (think Miles of Aisles), while the band stops and starts abruptly between her descriptions of some of the guests around the party, showing signs of some King Crimson or Iron Butterfly influence. A dizzy affair, Iâll say! When she finally gets to the bride and groom, who are dressed, â[Like some] freakish bloody zombie fancy, meek-ish shoddy Sid and Nancy,â our character is asked to cut the cake. BAND STOPS!âsave for a single C# note played very high up, chiming like a tock. âThey looked like they were glowing, but they didnât even know me!â Bass notes slide up and down octaves while the pianos smash messy, fists of chords and the drums go nuts.
6. EVEN IN THE RAIN â Acoustic guitars strum little timid chords, as character think about her regrets. The drummer rolls on the snare drum as to play some sort of rain-on-aluminum sound, as it starts indeed raining. This song is a relief from the chaos that ensued the track before it and character sings beautifully though mournfully. It could even be a Tim Hardin track, really. âEven in the rain, wonât return to all ma pain. And the woes I left my old homeâs clef wonât again hear my name.â This song is very short. Itâs a perfect finale to the first half of the record.
7. STARING AT THE STEEPLE â The band sounds like a traditional rock outfit covering a jazz-fusion song, maybe from Bitches Brew or something by Weather Report. Pure funk bass-lines and scattered rhythm. Character is looking up at the steeple of a church, wondering whether or not to go in and pray that she may find the answer to her troubles: âIâm staring at the steeple, while plenty of different people go about their businessâmy thoughts are getting vicious.â Sheâs wondering what to do, and the options toss back and forth in her head: to go in or not to go in, thatâs what sheâs questâin. A nice, short track at the beginning of side two.
8. RAY BOUVIERâŠ is a homeless Parisian cowboy who stumbles upon character as sheâs contemplating these things. A tiny, timid ukulele (or mandolin? I can never tell the difference) starts strumming the chords as Ray begins his plea: âYou look a little worried, a little not-to-sure. No need to be shy honey, though I was as demureâŠâ (This portion sounds a little like Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele, a hilarious contemporary crooner from Mississippi.) He tells character a story of how he too came to this town, in search of happinessâthe opposite of what he felt back in Parisâbut was met by the same confusion. Where to begin, he wondered himself. At this point, the ukulele plays itâs seemingly last chord, only to be replaced by a full-band version of the same chords that were being playedâin order to showcase Rayâs story, of course! Along with the same notes being played, the guitar starts to emulate the bluesiest riffs of Led Zeppelinâs catalogue. He tells a very elaborate story of how he obtained happiness, which is far too long and detailed for me to repeat in this re-collection, but what I do remember is that he says, at the very end, âBut it all started with some spare change.â The band of course play parts suitable for this final punch-line, pulling all their sounds just at the right time.
9. KEEP ME IN THE DARK â âHow can I give you change when I need some myself,â our character barks at Ray, throwing him two quarters and storming down the alley-way that runs parallel to the church. As evening descends, character walks down the alleywayâempty save for some trashcans and a few stray catsâand wonders what the hell sheâs doing wrong. An all-to-fitting saxophone makes a cameo as the band play toned-down and somberly in the background. She finally lets onto what it was during the first song that really made her leave her home. I wonât copy the words, but ultimately she unsuccessfully tried to kill herself by means of hanging. Fortunately she was found right after her heart stopped beating and was resuscitated, but felt too ashamed to stay in her small town any longer. Hence, Iâm going away.
10. LOST AT SEA â This track blends in at the end of the one before it, and is characterâs confession that sheâs totally alone in a big, scary city. Beautiful, latter-day Elton John piano parts and subdued drums back up her sad realization, and during the bridge is a bass solo that shadows her vocal parts during the verses. The chorus however alludes to some brightness at the end of the tunnel, which isnât realized untilâŠ
11. CUPS AND PUNCHES â Bam! Though itâs getting dark out, the rain clears itself just in time for a beautiful sunset. Is that a cheesy xylophone I hear doing a full scale-count? You shouldnât have. Character turns around to see both Charmaine and Ray standing behind her, the former of which remarks, âHoney, you look as though youâre on the brink. Come to my bar, promise on me a drink.â Character looks to the other end of the alley, which remarkably has a beautiful view of the sunset, and wonders what she has to lose? This song sounds like something straight out of a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young b-side (maybe without Young actually.) An injection of some bright California sunshine! The trio travel to the bar, order numerous rounds, and our character gets drunk real quickly. This part, maybe, sounds a little like Rust Never Sleeps-era Neil Young. Maybe she has finally found her happiness?
12. TAKE ME ROUND AGAIN â This part sounds like a combination of âBitter Teaâ and âWidow Cityâ (the songs and sorry again for referencing you guys). Thereâs some backwards effects happening with a little bit of vaudeville, spiced with some straight open guitar chords. âTake me round again, do it again,â our character shouts at the night sky, spinning around like a wind-up figurine. Indeed, do it again.
When it comes to accessibility, the Fiery Furnaces aren’t exactly the first band that come to mind. The brilliant left-field “rock-opera” tracks of Blueberry Boat scared away many a listener with their experimental tendencies. That being said, the title track that bursts open I’m Going Away might be the most accessible thing they’ve released since “Here Comes the Summer”.
Based on a traditional Appalachian folk tune, “I’m Going Away” begins with rollicking drums and cheerful guitars that emit the feeling of a road trip through the mountains. Eleanor’s beautiful voice grabs the listener’s attention with the bittersweet chorus:
“My love, we’ve had fun
But I’m tired of all these rainy days
I need a new friend and a bright place to stay
I’m going away”
But don’t let the simplicity fool you: the Fiery Furnaces still have more than enough tricks up their sleeves to create a thought-provoking listen. Take “Charmaine Champagne” for example: what begins as a fun night-out for Eleanor takes an unexpected turn at around the 3-minute mark, where jaunty piano chords and melodic guitars are replaced by blaring synth notes. This surprising turn is paralleled by the change of mood in the lyrics:
“But to think how things would be
If he were still here with me
It rips a Purebred’s heavy heart to shreds
Fading in the mountains fading to the mountains fading from the mountains…”
The album contains a recurring theme of travel, portraying the excitement of new adventures but also the nagging loneliness that makes one feel as though they should have just stayed home. Vocally, this is mostly Eleanor’s album, but Matt makes a few welcome appearances (the most notable being the waltz-y ballad “Ray Bouvier”). The best thing about I’m Going Away is it’s consistency. Whereas Rehearsing My Choir was received by many as a failed experimental concept and Widow City was criticized by some for not having enough concept, I’m Going Away feels like an album that will be well-recieved by fans and critics alike for its enthralling new frontiers and its ever-present charm that the Fiery Furnaces have possesed since Gallowsbird’s Bark.
What isn’t necessarily revealed through the tracklisting or its subsequent lyrics, through the credits and thank you’s or even in the enclosed essay (entitled: The Briefest of Suppositions – The Slow Revelations of I’m Going Away by Matthew Friedburger and Kazuo Ishiguro) but rather in the series of lenticular collages that grace the panels of the liner notes isn’t the fact that this is the most harmonically audacious in the Fiery Furnacers oeuvre or even that Ms. Friedburger continues to bury a number of capable singer in the glassine wake of the utter devastation her wonderful voice wrecks but almost simply, very quietly, with all caution and care and gentle reverence that this record could’ve been called Eleven Poems of Love and a Song of Despair with no irony and all due caution granted.
Lyrically, Mr. Friedburger channels Tom Stoppard via Maurice Sendak dragging his protagonists through the variegations of a semblance of existence. Whether they are leaving their childhood homes or making advances in game theory or bringing kittens back to life or learning that there is an order to all things in Thunderbolt Georgia, there is verve and terror and an ever lucid conceptual delineation between our guileless hope for affection and the inevitability of abandonment.
Yes, there isn’t a ten minute song one can watch bloom and blossom; riding without training wheels for the first time, trying out for varsity lacrosse and meeting his future fiance so akwardly that sunny September on the well groomed banks of Lake Norman. Yes, there might be too much kalimba. Yes, we still grieve the absence of Mr. Friedburger’s singing nonetheless, I’m Going Away is ebuillient and sonorous, meticulously constructed and fitting for any sort of late night garden party or plaintive sunday morning getting ready for church. So if you have thirteen dollars, if you can part with an hour of your time, there is a record by a band called The Fiery Furnaces that might be as suitable as anything else.
I love the Fiery Furnaces’ new record about the zombie apocalypse!
In a nutshell the Furnaces have done it again. Hemmingway, Salinger, yes in a blender I say. We’re off! Is that another Lewis Carroll reference on track 3? Certainly to the uninitiated this is no doubt a common misconception but old Furnace buffs know an existentialist meltdown when they hear one. What’s that you say? Ah yes whimsy. Sounds a bit like McCartney possessed Mozart for a session and we have the recording, every drunken second. Yes children father knows best so why don’t you go and give “I’m Going Away” a listen. You’ll be happy you did!
The sky vast and innocent, the world large and intimidating. I’m going away to wash that man right outta my hair.
Diners, Drive-Ins, Dives, take the low road to Dallas and survive asphyxiation.
The signals may begin to interfere with each other in a manner that degrades the signal of at least one of the transmissions, crosstalkingly implicating the end is near the beginning.
The bird with the crystal plumage will torture a duckling wearing a charmaine champagne pill-box hat.
Divorce Italian style; poison the flour, cut the cake, sail the ship.
The crows and red-winged blackbirds still caw and sing even in the rain.
Suzanne Bonner was backing up slowly across the pavement, staring at steeple and framing the shot when a double-decker bus came by and gave her heart a whisper she may never forget.
Ray Bouvier, you tiger you, if you don’t mate you may die.
Have you ever wondered where that pair of underwear by the side of the road came from? The sock, or that single mitten? It’s the lost undergarments that really keep me in the dark.
When I was young I think my chin got lost at sea.
Healers and apothecaries began using cups and punches in their treatment of family ailments.
Who said that rhyme is a literary crime? Take me round again, my darling Nicolas Beauchesne.
-John Joseph Hauer