Handing over the mic to artists/musicians who break down their new albums track by track/share the thought process behind the creation. Today we’ll hear from Mike Cranny of UK band Firestations whose new EP Pixel Wilderness is out now on Lost Map.
This one is a driving retro-futurist lament looking at the highs and lows of losing your sense of self in the wild hinterland of the internet. Sometimes I feel like an online persona offers a truthful insight into someone’s thoughts – a kind of fast-track conduit to an internal monologue – and other times it feels at least semi-fictional and hugely aspirational. However you look at it, I reckon the internet offers a pretty seismic evolutionary shift in consciousness; well, either that or a great way to get out of your head via TikTok scrolling, Limmy’s vines compilations or Axl Rose shouting “gimme some reggae” for 8 minutes and 34 seconds.
A song from the early days of the band that has existed in various unreleased forms since then, but now shimmers into focus through the lens of more recent electronic experiments. The message of resilience in the verse “you are stronger and tougher than you think, you’re not going down any time soon”, is questioned by an uneasy backdrop of shifting drones and washes of noise, before being resoundingly affirmed by a strident big harmony chorus “you’re not going down with the sun in your eyes”. We hope that listeners come away from the song feeling a bit better about stuff, and maybe even able to have a big cathartic cry.
This began life as a longform drone piece in an art installation in a toilet. We then took the woozy guitar loops and washed-out synth drones and added lyrics about dissociation and the pressures of keeping it together “don’t ask me to be someone I’m not, like clouds are mountains in the sky”. Thematically, the whole EP has a vein of ambivalence towards virtual/alternative realities running through it, as you might have guessed from the title. Pass me that tin-foil hat, I need to block out the microwaves!
A synth-pop track that was on the previous Melted Medium EP is reimagined here as an intimate dystopian ballad with Mike and Laura’s vocals upfront and affecting, and Martin’s synth washes rising and falling. It should definitely be possible to have a good cry to this one.
Each collection in the Automatic Tendencies trilogy features covers and remixes of new Firestations tracks by other artists. For the cover on this EP the band have recruited friends and fellow drone-pop travellers The Leaf Library, who have completely transformed previous single The Circular. Their version takes the cyclical, hypnotic elements of the original and expands them into a rejuvenating six-minute wave of distorted guitar, saxophone interjections and blissed-out vocals. What a band.
The last track on Pixel Wilderness is a remix by Ocean Moon, aka Jon Tye. As well as being one half of the brain behind independent label Lo Recordings, Jon is also a musician/producer who specialises in spacious, deep and meditative sounds. With this reworking of Dream Home, he has created a shimmering sonic landscape utilising fragments of vocals and basslines from the original (which features as a B-side to the Sun In Your Eyes single). Cheers Jon.
Pixel Wilderness EP is out on Lost Map Records on Friday 6th August.
Melted Medium and Automatic Tendencies EPs are out now.