When Tee Pee Records put out Quest for Fire’s self-titled full-length last year, I got a promo of it, and it went promptly on my shelf. I didn’t even listen. You know why? Because I knew that if I listened to it, I’d like it, and then it would be one more god damn album to buy, one more god damn band to like, one more god damn show to trek out to. Blah.
Of course, I got mine in the end, as Tee Pee now releases the follow-up from these Toronto argonauts, Lights from Paradise. Sure enough, a promo of the record came in the mail, and I put it on, and now I want both albums. So yeah, thanks a lot.
Lights from Paradise is eight tracks of sprawling psychedelia from the Canadian four-piece, ranging from the ritualistic stillness of opener “The Greatest Hits by God,” which seems to capitalize on what Om might sound like with two guitars, to the semi-raucousness of “Set Out Alone” or the Dead Meadow freakout of “In the Place of a Storm.” Of the sundry personality traits the band shows on the album, I prefer the moody, subdued side that comes out on the first track or “Psychic Seasons,” which boasts one of Lights from Paradise’s few excursions into acoustics and also features some strings for a classy touch. Of course, there’s something to be said for the extended Beatles-style solo in closer “Sessions of Light” as well, which shows Quest for Fire as a band with more than just a reverb pedal and propensity for jamming, complex as its melody structure and progression are. Take your pick, really.
Guitarists Andrew Moszynski and Chad Ross, the latter who also handles the breathy vocals that pop out of the sonic swamp every now and again, both came from Toronto’s The Deadly Snakes, and Mike Maxymuik was in hardcore wreckers Cursed, so the band is not without touring experience, though Quest for Fire is a different sonic monster from either of those acts. Bassist Josh Bauman shines on “Confusion’s Home,” subtly thickening the song as the guitars meld acoustic and electric approaches and Maxymuik puts his toms to good use. Lights from Paradise winds up being an album more about feel and mood than the individual songs, as hypnosis runs deep in the material and it’s easy (I’ve done it more than once now) to put on “The Greatest Hits by God” and snap out of it 45 minutes later when the album’s over feeling like you’ve just been washed over with sound, like some kind of obscure Baptist river cleansing. I know I say all the time that bands like this are worth actually paying attention to, and I stand by that here for Quest for Fire, but if you want to just tilt your head back and soak in these songs osmotically through your pores, you’ll probably enjoy that too.
Again, I didn’t hear the self-titled album, but on Lights from Paradise, Quest for Fire have crafted a record so easily flowing and natural feeling that you wonder if it wasn’t recorded live, where the over-arching serenity of it comes from. Because even at its most active, there’s something peaceful about the record’s overall feel. The liberal use of sustained guitar notes helps, and Ross’ vocals usually feel beamed in from some unknown cosmic bunker, so that doesn’t hurt either. They pull off a gradual build on “Hinterland Who’s Who,” that leads well into the closer, but Quest for Fire’s mellowness isn’t readily shaken, and I think it works for them. Fans of Tee Pee’s newer stable of acts (Ancestors, Earthless, Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound, Naam) who are as late to the Quest for Fire party as I am will be glad to discover this pastoral feel, but if you’re not looking to be on the hook for at least two records, approach with caution.Canada, Ontario, Quest for Fire, Tee Pee, Toronto