REVIEW: FIRE GARDEN – “Far And Near”
One can never ask enough when it comes to progressive music. More is never enough is the case usually. I might be justified in saying that if there’s an imagination to it, there’s a prog song to it somewhere. While the vast endeavor of progressive music is loved, perhaps it might be nice to sometimes find music that who’s prog factor isn’t straight up in your face. While some acts follow the said fashion exist, I invite your attention to Fire Garden. One EP and one album later, Fire Garden is back with ‘Far and Near’. Going by everything Zeeshan Baig had to offer with Fire Garden, I kind of knew what to expect from the new record. I really appreciated the chilled out vibes that was essentially the sound of Fire Garden so far and a part of me hope for the same in the new album while another part of me wanted something outrageous and outlandish. The new album still had the wonderful and peaceful vibes of the past with a better sense of direction and a new level of articulation.
The title track “Far and Near” is an amalgamation of instrumental bliss and vocal harmonies- a treat for your ears and a satisfying appetizer for rest of the album. One thing I love about the new record and the overall sound of Fire Garden is the vintage feel in the music. “There’s Something” has a lot of vintage nostalgia to offer. While the song does tend to be on a serious sounding note, the song actually sounds very comforting in the midst of the singing and instrumental arrangements. From here on, I hoped to find the same moods in the latter part of the album. And lo, the 70’s and 80’s come in singing, swinging and swaying aloud. Take in the psychedelic elements the music has to offer in its finer nuances which keep themselves far from the tense moments of the album. Songs like “A New Day” and “Life of a Drifter” do just that. Interestingly, “Life of a Drifter” features a guest solo by the legendary Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater).
Set aside the moments of tranquility and the music makes way for blazing leads and solos on the guitars and arrangements on the keys. While these arrangements can be considered as harsher elements in the music, I personally feel that they add a lot of color to the mellow parts of the music and thus create a tension that doesn’t make the music a tasteless mess. When you look at the album from this perspective, the music becomes predictable. “A Thousand Lost Souls” and “War and Peace” act as little breaks in the overall mood of the album. These songs disrupt the cycles of mellow tranquility and groovy tension while letting the listener get lost in all the softness that make them. Perhaps these songs were themselves a part of the cycle? You decide. Even with the album being predictable to a considerable extent, there’s a lot of musical possibilities explored within this predictable realm. The notion of being predictable doesn’t render the potential of the music as narrow but here’s there is a lot to explore and try out. “Faint Shadows” and “Whitelight” are songs that follow the exact same trend set so far in the album but has a ton of niceties to offer. Take in the soothing music and I would insist that you closely follow the lyrics. “Diary of a Blood Moon” more or less sums up everything that is the album. While being a relatively long song, this song sounds the most modern off the entire record. In fact, while the others on the album had bits of modern elements here and there, this song is essentially a modern prog song. It seems as though I might have traveled through time with the album and I’m back in the present with “Diary of the Blood Moon”. Well, they journey has been pretty eventful and enjoyable so far and it certainly the invitation for many more is wide open. Apart from the legend Rudess himself, the record features Jimmy Keegan (Spock’s Beard) on drums and album art by Travis Smith (Opeth and Riverside).
‘Far and Near’ by Fire Garden isn’t simply what it seems like. While the sound of the album had a certain predictability factor to it, the fine nuances in the music make a lot of special moments in the album. And that creates a wonderful atmosphere in the moods the album has to offer. Be it a tiring day, something eventful or the urge for some nostalgic sounds, ‘Far and Near’ is the album for the times. While being relatively modern in its approach, the vintage sounds of the album ensures you wouldn’t miss out on nicer possibilities. The pleasant singing adds a lot of depth to the intricate yet fulfilling instrumental arrangements. With the experience the album comes with, better levels of production would have done so much justice to the music. There’s a huge potential for a different feeling with a greater clarity with the possibility of another and more extensive level of production. While there’s a more definite sense of musicality and composition in the music, the direction of production isn’t too clear. Nevertheless, Zee has created magic in the guise of Fire Garden’s ‘Far and Near’. Take the album for what it is and immerse yourself in the experience that is the album. Progressive music is essentially an experience in many colors, textures, sounds and a lot more. ‘Far and Near’ doesn’t miss out anything in this experience we enjoy!
Album is available for purchase: https://firegardenmusic.bandcamp.com/