FiRES WERE SHOT: awakened by a lonely feud
Quiet Design

FiRES WERE SHOT, formed by Austin, Texas soundscapers Clay Walton and John Wilkins in 1998, use a surprisingly modest amount of gear—not much more than acoustic guitars and pedals, we're told, though an occasional field recording also extends the sound palette (such as during “This Shirt Makes It Rain”)—to generate the potent dreamscapes populating Awakened By A Lonely Feud. And dreamscapes they certainly are, whether they're lulling fields of guitar-generated textures (“Cradles”) or chiming, bell-like arrays of acoustic picking (“Go On and Carried Out”).

The album's eleven immersive settings find the duo comfortably straddling folk, ambient, and experimental realms in such a way that the pastoral outdoors and uppermost spheres serve as panoramic touchstones, even sometimes in the same piece. The irradiated and stately slow-burn of “Feel Like Illinois” ascends to lofty cosmic heights in little more than three minutes, and though the title track's celestial ambient makes a strong impression, it comes to seem like a bit of a warm-up when the swooping guitar masses of the subsequent “Zsarrha” up the transcendental ante even more. Some of the pieces are simply beautiful, and it's during the longer settings that Walton and Wilkins are able to work their magic all the more powerfully.

April 2011