Of all the times, places, and ways to release an album, this may be the worst: just before SXSW, in Austin, in the digital format. This unusual hat trick comes across as a virtual cry for anonymity. And yet, fame doesn’t seem to be something John Wilkins and Clay Walton care about; after all, they spent seven years between recordings before returning with last year’s Awakened by a Lonely Feud. The problem here – and for once, it’s a good problem – is that this album is extremely worthy of attention, yet will need help to appear on radar.
Fires Were Shot has post-rock roots, but is no longer post-rock. The latest effort is a single track, half-hour drone. Don’t make the mistake of clicking Play, then skipping to different parts of the track. I made this mistake myself; but in so doing, I missed all of the elegance and grace. But once I played the whole thing through, I was hooked, and immediately started playing it again. I expect most drone fans will do the same.
Long tracks are often a challenge, because their contents need to justify their length. Maritime does so with bright chords, continual builds and some very convincing white noise. Fires Were Shot claims to be just a pair of guys with some acoustic guitars and reverb pedals, but there’s much more to the album than that: a spacious arrangement, an uplifting mood, a sense of measured control. Maritime is like a heart slowly opening, a seed slowly sprouting, a sun slowly rising: inevitable miracles that never fail to surprise. When the timbre changes in the seventeenth minute, the focus shifts from the overall mood to the specific actions of the players, and one becomes intensely aware that the music reflects careful choices and calm intention. It’s wonderful to find the duo back in action so soon, and sounding so seaworthy. (Richard Allen)