One of the great joys of having a blog is the wide variety of music that comes my way. Sometimes you get things you never expected to receive. One such example of this is Square Peg in a Square Hole, which is the debut album from firewheelbombfire. firewheelbombfire is the name which Cardiff-based producer Matt Strangis has chosen for his solo album.
Under another pseudonym, Billy Gone Bad, he produces drum and bass music and has received airplay from luminaries such as Huw Stephens, Tom Robinson and Annie Nightingale. So, you could rightfully ask (assuming you know of him in this guise), he has the credentials. Can his solo output match?
It’s an eclectic mix of sounds. The opening track, Doggone, is atmospheric to the hilt. Drum beats, clean guitars and a deep throaty bass come together with manipulated effects, leaving you in no doubt that Strangis means business. At the end, when the harder guitars enter the fray, you’re left breathless – it should feel oppressive, but it doesn’t. It leaves you wanting more.
More comes in the form of Get Out Much?, which is oppressive. The vocals are initially spoken menacingly, slightly overdubbed and repeated. You feel drawn into a trance. Then the shouts start. The intensity rises, you feel your body becoming tauter, ready to spring from danger.
The album is homemade, but it does not have that homemade feel. The production skills of Strangis negate that entirely. It’s one of the best made albums I have come across. It sounds and feels fully made; not a beat, effect or pluck of a string is out of place. Strangis is a highly talented individual.
It’s not only his production skills that deserve hailing. He is able to make music of a variety of genres. From the dark electronica with industrial touches, he virtually goes (dark) pop with September. It’s got a hook that could top the charts if he was interested in creating throwaway music.
One thing to note, and the musician (admittedly failed) in me really, really, likes this is the track listing is arranged in chronological order – the first song on the album is the first song made, and so on. Instead of trying to find the right track listing for maximum commercial success, he concentrates on making the album he wants to make.
In the PR I received, Strangis doesn’t want to make singles. He wants to make albums. In this day and age, the art of making an album, a cohesive set of songs, is in great danger of being lost. In this respect we have a saviour on our hands.
Square Peg in a Square Hole by firewheelbombfire was released on the 1st May on Cen:sore Records