Tuesday, January 30, 2007


The Fiery Furnaces - Rehearsing My Choir

I find this album simply beautiful and very complex. The critics pan most concept albums and they were pretty rough on this one. The album needs to be heard from start to finish like a film, the tracks acting as scenes and setting separate moods…in the end an overall theme is then built. The music is at the highest level of mastery of visual instrumentation, creating a perfect syncopation between the story (lyrics) and the background (instruments). The best example of this is when they talk about the music of a funeral being drowned out by construction work and Matthew comes thumping in with a razor sharp distorted guitar line. Joining Matthew and Eleanor (very hot, in that woman jamming on a guitar way) is their Grandmother Olga Sarantos, who tells the story of her life. I find it charming that they immortalized her childhood and the subject matter being so close to those who created it shows throughout. I would compare this masterpiece to a French new wave film…stupid people just don’t understand it. I know that’s heavy handed but like a French new wave film, if you don’t work to understand the material then it’s easy to dismiss it as bad. I worked at hearing the intention and understanding the story by reading the liner notes…and it melted my heart. What a perfect album that has no semblance of anything ever created before it. Here is what Matthew had to say (I guess he was frustrated by those who weren’t quite understanding his brilliance.)

Dear Listener, Tracks 3 and 4 take place in the 40's; tracks 5 and 6 in the 20's and 30's; track 7 in the later 50's; track 8 starts in the very early 40's; track 9 goes back and forth; track 10 takes place in the early 60's; the final track takes place in the early 90's. Track 2 takes place a few years ago; track 1 took place when it was recorded. The action depicted in "The Wayward Granddaughter" and "Slavin' Away" does not include the character Olga Sarantos plays on the rest of the record. "Slavin' Away" imagines that character--the main character-- fantasizing, a bit remotely, about the hard lot of other women. Now, I wouldn't guess that the Main Character actually thought the woman concerned was riding around in a Norton side-car and operating her own cottage industry trinket assembly/sweatshop: but it might have pleased her to picture it so. "The Wayward Granddaughter" is about a different Greek-American grandmother and her popular granddaughter ("Connie"). They're from Chicago's south suburbs and don't figure in the rest of the record; I wanted to have another (slightly younger) grandmother and family in there for perspective or comparison's sake, so to speak. Thank you for your time, Matthew Friedberger

By Zach Hart with 2 comments


Well Put. i love how he adds a song about a younger grandmother for good measure. This album slays! I need to give it another listen it has been a few months now.

nice french new wave refrence.

i love phil.

that was an editorial