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OLD FIRE

Old Fire

Voids

    For Fans of: Bill Callahan, Adam Torres, Cross Record, Julia Holter, Low, Damien Jurado.

    The album’s Texas-based producer John Mark Lapham was a member of Secretly Canadian band The Earlies. Voids employs the vocal talents of Bill Callahan, Emily Cross, Adam Torres, and Julia Holter across twelve genre-fluid, yet impressively cohesive tracks that span baroque dream-pop, filmic ambient, raga-like drones, avant-country, and even spiritual jazz, all imbued with poetic heft and seared by the West Texas sun. It was beneath this same sun that Lapham lost both of his parents, mourned a withering relationship, and shouldered the fallout of the pandemic, turning his life into the rusted-out scraps he then used to build Voids from the ground up.

    There is no better narrator for Lapham’s story than fellow Texas resident Bill Callahan, whose iconic delivery perfectly personifies the core themes of Voids. By the time Callahan appears, he does so over a saw-blade drone that sounds like machinery echoing off the corrugated steel walls of a nearby workshop, which then breaks open into a loose yet pained confluence of violin and upright bass that recalls Joe Henderson’s 1974 spiritual jazz album The Elements. On “Dreamless” the album crystallizes into its most straight-ahead moment as Lapham trains his compositional lens on a brilliant piece of pop songwriting. Featured vocalist Adam Torres soars over John Mark’s punctual arrangement of stomping drums and rapturous string-work to anthemic, and gently psychedelic consequence.

    Voids concludes with the pleasant clatter of “Circles” wherein Lapham throws all his ingredients into a pot of celebratory catharsis. Drum sets collide with one another gleefully, and harmonized textures scatter and roll about the floor like a dropped bucket of ornate marbles. Lapham’s collage-work, which up to this point has been smartly restrained, comes unglued as he transmutes grief into relief within a moment-of-death montage of aural imagery. Across Voids, that same awareness of tragedy and loneliness is made palatable by the album’s exciting and varied topography, which stands insubordinately against Lapham’s real-life surroundings. The settlers who established West Texas towns like the one he calls home must have done so with a sense of hope despite the hostility of their surroundings, however inevitable the withering. Similar spirits speak through John Mark Lapham’s work, and he welcomes them as fascinating old friends. “That more than anything inspired a lot of what I try to express through Old Fire, faded memories, former glories, places lost in time,” he discloses. “Whatever I was trying to express with Old Fire wasn't finished with the first album, like a story that was only half-read. It seemed like that was only the beginning, and there was a lot more ground to cover.” If there is ground still uncovered for Old Fire after Voids, it's sure to be lush in spite of or perhaps because of the dusty soil beneath it.

    TRACK LISTING

    01. All Gone [2:11]
    02. Blue Star (ft. Emily Cross) [4:07]
    03. When I Was In My Prime (ft. Bill Callahan) [5:05]
    04. Corpus (ft. Bill Callahan) [4:15]
    05. Love Is Only Dreaming [2:45]
    06. Dreamless (ft. Adam Torres) [3:08]
    07. Don't You Go (ft. Bill Callahan) [4:38]
    08. Window (ft. Julia Holter) [4:24]
    09. Uninvited [8:22]
    10. Memory [5:51]
    11. Father As A Child [4:24]
    12. Circles [6:57]

    Old Fire

    Songs From The Haunted South

    The pet project of Texas based programmer John Mark Lapham, - of The Earlies and 4AD band The Late Cord fame - Old Fire joins a world-class roster that includes the likes of Steven Wilson, The Pineapple Thief, Anathema, Nordic Giants and The Anchoress. Taking nearly a decade to make, Songs From The Haunted South has been a labour of love for Lapham.

    Born from an album concept for a 4AD project with singer Micah P. Hinson (The Late Cord), the album was originally intended to feature different singers and musicians recording songs that were both covers and originals. After parting ways with Micah, Lapham remained determined to realize his vision for the album and sought voices he considered special or fitted the inspiration.

    The first piece of the puzzle fell in to place after meeting the former owner of 4AD, Ivo Watts Russell, who introduced Lapham to singer/songwriter, Tom Rapp - who recorded a string of haunting albums in the late 60s and 70s under the name Pearls Before Swine. The vocals Rapp provided formed the basis of the track Shadows. In the following years, guest vocals were recorded by Sara Lowes (The Earlies), DM Stith, Christopher Barnes (Gem Club), Rebekka Karijord, and Alex Maas (Black Angels).

    The project also features a myriad of exceptional musicians including Warren Defever (His Name Is Alive) - Guitar, Thor Harris (Swans) - Drums, Christian Madden - Rhodes piano & Organ and Semay Wu (Cello).

    The 13 track album contains a selection of songs that in one way or another are dedications to people, some dead and some still living. Musically, inspirations range from ambient artists such as Brian Eno and Stars of the Lid to Psychedelic Rock, traditional Country and early 4AD.

    Sitting alongside the original Old Fire compositions are a selection of intriguing cover versions. Lapham uniquely interprets songs by Psychic TV (The Orchids), Low (Laser Beam), Ian William Craig (A Sight Grip, A Gentle Hold), Jason Molina (It's Easier Now), Camberwell Now (Know How) and Shearwater (Helix).

    Songs From The Haunted South' was produced by John Mark Lapham, mixed by JM Lapham and Mark Kuykendall, and was mastered by Ian Hawgood.

    The powerful cover art was designed by UK's Grammy Award winning designer Vaughan Oliver, famed for his work with artists such as Mojave 3, Lush, Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, The Breeders, This Mortal Coil, Pixies, Throwing Muses in addition to artists such as David Sylvian and Bush. The cover shot taken in 1958 features Lapham's father during bivouac camping basic training in the foothills of the Ozarks, at Fort Chaffee.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says:

    TRACK LISTING

    Old Fire 3
    Along Came A Sadness
    Helix
    Know How
    It's Easier Now
    A Stranger In The Family
    Bloodchild
    Faust
    Shadows
    A Slight Grip, A Gentle Hold
    Laser Beam
    The Orchids
    Deadhouse Dream


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