All right, well, let’s be honest: electro-dub-industrial has never been my genre of choice. However, it has a fascinating inner outlandish approach; try firewheelbombfire’s album for example: “Square Peg in a Square Hole” mingles dooming guitars, grumbling vocals and a NIN-y uncanny sonic landscape (“Get Out Much”). The solo project of the Cardiff-based producer Matt Strangis was born with the intent of recording a trans-genre experimental album, following some specific parameters: “I wanted to write it in a short time span (avoiding over-thinking or over-cooking), in the order of track-listing (for coherency), with an emphasis on live, unusual sounds. I quickly started work on the intro to track 1 and then went from there… around two months later, I finished the outro to track 10!” 

The album itself focuses on construction and deconstruction, making of experimentation  the leading trend of the album, which does not belong to a specific genre. As the release unfolds, some bits may strongly draw from Reznor’s electronic touch and post-punk-like brooding, world-weary sounds, finding inspiration from a spectrum of diverted sources “… in terms of pushing the envelope in electronic stuff, I’d say people like Fracture, Blocks & Escher… with metal, I love the way Opeth’s sound twists and incorporates so many ideas… Kyuss for their sheer weight… Liars for their experimentation… David Guetta for hair and wardrobe.

As some other ambient-experimental-avant guarde projects, firewheelbombfire finds the musical element in things you’d never expect to be…musical: “Um, a freshly poured frothing glass of Pepsi… or a shaving foam container rolling around inside a bathtub…”, and my personal favourite…a cat, not always renowned as the most collaborative of the animals: “Haha, yep, cats… man’s best boss! My neighbour’s cat sometimes sneaks into my house via the window, as she likes to explore – on one occasion, she came into my studio and started purring, so I put a mic near her and recorded a few seconds of sound before she decided she had better things to do… it worked as a strange bass sound which I used on one of the tracks!

Indeed, Matt moves from drum & bass, which he produces, to the next level: “I had begun to feel that I needed a bit of a break from the pressures of drum & bass production (very steep learning curve – oh, woe is me) and its endless quest to make things bigger / tighter / fatter / warmer… so with the firewheelbombfire project, I made a conscious decision to spend less time working on certain technical aspects of production (endless tweaking of sounds / pressure to achieve commercial volume etc), in order to spend more time experimenting with arrangements / live instruments / recording techniques etc.

We must say though that drum & bass influenced the result of the release to a degree “...especially in relation to the atmospheric, cinematic vibes often found in drum & bass… I was also inspired by the way the scene embraces technology / DIY ethics, and encourages the irreverent use of out-of-context sounds… that said, in terms of production, with firewheelbombfire, I used a more organic / less rigid approach than you’d often find in drum & bass (for example, more live elements / less reliance on quantize grids and defined tempos / less rigid song structures etc).

Matt also embraces the pro-album / anti-single perspective, which developed after moving from Drum & Bass and getting into the “album mentality”, which is now coming back also thanks to music streaming subscriptions, such as Spotify : “I wanted to give listeners a reason to listen to something from start-to-finish, rather than just press shuffle and hear a “learn-Danish-in-3-months” audio-book sandwiched between Slayer and The Carpenters… not that I’m trying to be an order-Nazi… the Genius-playlist idea is still pretty, um, genius!

Whether you get caught in the futuristic tribal impetuous storm (“Trodite”), or the fragmented math-esque tracks (“Polypoly), “Square Peg in a Square Hole” is an engaging journey through unexplored sonic landscapes – which has been already loved all over the Net: “Some of the reviews have been very thorough, and it’s interesting to see how different people interpret it and attach their own meanings and visual associations. I’ve yet to have a Spinal Tap-esque review which simply reads “Square Shit in a Shit Hole”… but I suppose we can’t always get what we want…


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