Fire Records is Treble Zine’s Label Of The Month

“Fire has been at the forefront of the evolving shape of psychedelia for four decades.”  Treble Zine

Treble Zine have selected us as their Label Month and to celebrate they picked 10 favourite albums from our catalogue, including Faten Kanaan, Vanishing Twin, Jane Weaver, Decisivie Pink, Bardo Pond, Bark Psychosis and more.

TREBLE: “Fire Records is 40. Formed in 1984 by Clive Solomon and Jonny Waller, the UK-based label began with a handful of forward-thinking records in the post-punk underground, quickly developing a roster of bands steeped in psychedelia and carrying that thread on for four decades up to the present. It’s been home to legends like Spacemen 3 and Pulp, more recently releasing standout records by the likes of Jane Weaver and Vanishing Twin, and has likewise picked up legends ranging from Guided by Voices to Kristin Hersh as well as reissuing the catalogs of Pere Ubu and Black Lips. As the groundbreaking imprint celebrates its anniversary, we tip our hat with 10 of our picks for the best Fire Records albums.”

Blurbs written by Jeff Terich (JT), Greg Hyde (GH) and Konstantin Rega (KR)

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Faten Kanaan – Mythology of Circles

The release of a record like Faten Kanaan’s Mythology of Circles—composed solely of instrumental synthesizer music—is a prime example of Fire’s evolution from its earliest days up to the present. Where once its roster was defined by guitar-driven indie records, it’s expanded well beyond that fixed point. And yet it’s easy to imagine this stunningly progressive set of synth-driven compositions alongside something like Spacemen 3 or Bark Psychosis, each artist providing a different perspective on music that challenges perceptions of genre or even music itself. Kanaan’s Fire debut is rooted in the sprawling sonic explorations of ’70s-era kosmische but pared down to miniature pieces, albeit tied together with themes inspired by Greek myth and warmly decaying around the edges like Boards of Canada at their best. – JT

Vanishing Twin – Ookii Gekkou

London-based experimental trio Vanishing Twin is a bit peculiar in a good way. Led by singer and guitarist Cathy Lucas, their unique style is a mish-mash of psychedelic pop with jazz while pulling at various other threads—you may hear some Cocteau Twins influences here and there. Their third release, Ookii Gekkou, is full of wild sounds and interesting musical blends. “Phase One Million” has a delicious funk to it. “In Cucina” has an exotica atmosphere to it, while also supporting some jazz-influenced free-styling. The playfulness and sense of fun throughout the album makes those strange and innovative sounds come together in a way that feels perfectly natural. Vanishing Twin never seems to stay still, pushing boundaries while bringing the audience along with them. – KR

Decisive Pink – Ticket to Fame

Angel Deradoorian and Kate NV have each built up respective catalogs of forward-thinking pop music, the former’s steeped in psychedelia and the latter’s awash in warmly playful synths. That each artist’s style is distinctive yet complementary toward the other’s makes their debut collaboration as Decisive Pink, Ticket to Fame, feel effortless and fully formed upon arrival. The duo take inspiration from early ’80s minimal wave and ’70s-era krautrock (Neu! wave?) in crafting a set of songs that aim for transcendence even as they maintain a firm grounding in melodic pop. They’re not averse to indulging in silliness when it suits them (“Potato Tomato”), but more often they prefer harder pulsing out-of-body experiences, like the breathtaking “Destiny.” Released just last summer, Ticket to Fame is a prime example of how Fire has been at the forefront of the evolving shape of psychedelia for four decades. – JT

Jane Weaver – Modern Kosmology

Manchester artist Jane Weaver’s body of work is both vast and undersung, beginning with her abbreviated discography with the short-lived band Kill Laura, followed by that of Misty Dixon and occasional releases with her progressive electronic project Fenella. But for two decades she’s built up an ample set of solo recordings delving into synth-driven sounds that have consistently showcased her tendency toward hypnotically mesmerizing psychedelia. Modern Kosmology is a peak among her dozen solo releases, steeped in intricately layered krautrock pulses and intricately layered swirls of pop hallucination, from the slow-burn build of “H_A_K” and the kaleidoscopic stunner “Did You See the Butterflies?” to the throbbing pulse of “The Architect.” – JT

Bardo Pond – Peace on Venus

Bardo Pond’s been a stalwart of the Fire Records roster for 14 years, beginning with their 2010 self-titled album and featuring around a half-dozen releases since, including this, one of the greatest in their sprawling catalog as a whole. Peace on Venus contains only five songs, making it relatively concise when held against their druggy psych-shoegaze classic Amanita, but these five compositions still set their controls for a rarefied space. Peace on Venus is dense and heavy, rife with both wah-wah licks and trippy flutes, and laden with distortion thick enough to cause a contact high. (Get a lung full of “Fir” and don’t be surprised if it provides an experience similar to that of “Dopesmoker.”) Moments of hypnotic beauty arise throughout, particularly in the melancholy swirl of “Chance,” but this is an album built for interstellar traveling. – JT

Bark Psychosis – ///Codename: Dustsucker

London’s Bark Psychosis never officially broke up, but in their nearly four-decade history, the group have only released two full-length albums, ten years apart. Their debut, 1994’s Hex, is a landmark album in what we now know as post-rock (in fact, it’s the album that inadvertently led to the term being coined), while its follow-up, 2004’s ///Codename: Dustsucker, deepens their exploration of atmospheric mood pieces and ambient netherworlds. Like their contemporaries in Talk Talk, Bark Psychosis merge the looseness and groove of jazz with songs that employ the diction of rock but not the syntax. These are gorgeously mysterious pieces, laid-back but not lightweight, showcasing the next and, to date, final stage of their curious and fascinating evolution. – JT

Television Personalities – Privilege

A foundational band in early ’80s UK post-punk, Television Personalities made their name on ramshackle lo-fi jangle-pop but eventually graduated to more sophisticated and brilliantly melancholy sounds. Privilege is one such record, an early standout in the Fire catalog and one of the group’s finest overall. More polished and glorious gloomy, with shades of Syd Barrett, Privilege found Dan Treacy maturing as both a songwriter and a singer, finding a shimmering middle-ground between the scrappy pop of …And Don’t the Kids Just Love It and the hazy slo-mo drones of The Painted Word. – JT

Spacemen 3 – The Perfect Prescription

One of the earliest and most influential bands on the Fire roster, Spacemen 3 helped define a new era of psychedelia with their blend of Velvets-inspired drones and fiery moments of rock ‘n’ roll freakout. The latter is what kicks off their sophomore album The Perfect Prescription—originally released via Glass but picked up shortly thereafter via Fire for its official CD release—on the thundering opener “Take Me to the Other Side.” But after setting the speakers ablaze, Jason Pierce (now of Spiritualized) and Sonic Boom settle in and let the smoke drift throughout the remainder of the album, veering between blissful lullabies and avant garde spacewalks. With a relatively minimal approach and as few chord changes as possible, the British group crafted a psychedelic masterpiece. – JT


Pulp – Separations

Shortly before making the leap to Island Records for a trio of albums that helped define and then bury Britpop, Pulp closed out their tenure on Fire with an ambitious third album that changes course dramatically from side A to side B. As Pulp grew more sophisticated as songwriters, and Jarvis Cocker fully growing into his role as one of the all-time great lead vocalists of the 1990s, they likewise took on a greater degree of experimentation. The first half of Separations comprises Scott Walker and Jacques Brel-inspired art-pop that leans heavy on the drama in moments like the title track and “Love Is Blind.” In the second half, however, they turn up the acid house and proto-“Disco 2000” BPMs for a glorious, glamorous dancefloor odyssey. The seeds of songs like “I Spy” and “Party Hard” are all over this record, if in slightly lower-budget form, proof enough of the band’s inimitable songwriting, storytelling and charm as it approached its final form. – JT

Mission of Burma – Unsound

Boston post-punk legends Mission of Burma only released one album via Fire before disbanding, but it was a good one. Whilst songs like “Semi-Pseudo-Sort-of-Plan,” “Second Television,” and “Sectionals in Mourning” showcase the sort of gloomily melodic vocals and catchy yet abrasive guitars from Clint Conley and Roger Miller that Mission of Burma made their trademark, Unsound also features its share of sonic experimentation. “This Is Hi-Fi” and “Fell–>H2O” feature playing that is funkier than most of the band’s previous output, offering fans a bittersweet glimpse of the sort of innovation they could have expected from Mission of Burma if they’d stayed together a while longer. – GH


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