North London 5-piece, Firefly Burning create impressionistic music – part art-folk song, part minimalist chamber music. Evoking sounds of Sufjan Stevens, Steve Reich and Kate Bush, the band draws on avant-pop, experimental folk, classical minimalism and Javanese Gamelan to ‘paint sound pictures and take the audience in myriad directions at will’ (For Folks Sake). With eclectic tastes and a background in free improvisation, the band encompass strings, piano, synthesiser, electric guitar and gamelan, centred on close vocal harmonies echoing of William Byrd and The Beach Boys.
Writing all their songs together as a 5-piece, in 2015 the band released and toured their second album ‘Skeleton Hill’, garnering critical success for its rich tapestry and originality. They are currently completing a new album for release in early 2019.
Firefly Burning are James Redwood, Sam Glazer, Jack Ross, John Barber and Bea Hankey.
Firefly Burning’s Spotify Playlist
Wesley’s Theory — Kendrick Lamar
So good that he won the Pulitzer for DAMN. I prefer To Pimp A Butterfly though and have gone back to it recently. The production is so slick.
New Grass — Talk Talk
We were really lucky to work with Tim Freese-Greene from Talk Talk on our last two albums. This track is a thing of absolute beauty and perfection. It’s one of the few pieces of music that can regularly bring me to tears.
The Rest of Us — Colin Stetson & Sarah Neufeld
Otherworldly collaboration between Sarah Neufeld and Colin Stetson’s extraordinary saxophone playing with it’s primal percussive taps, humming, breath and spit.
Nautilus — Anna Meredith
Such an exciting experience listening to this track live – visceral and joyful. Seems so simple but so complex. Beautiful album from a genre-defying artist.
The Jungle Line — Joni Mitchell
Recorded in 1975 but could easily have been created by Björk or Wildbirds + Peacedrums. Dark fevered lyrics, Joni’s sinuous voice, warped synth lines and pounding drums. It’s amazing.
Yes Yaa Yaa — Vula Viel
Love the Ghanaian gyil (xylophone) on this track C.ray cross-rhythms, lots of percussion and a monster tenor sax solo. Catch them live if you can.
Count It Up — Field Music
I love how direct and powerful the message is in this song. It challenges us to take a moment to recognise our privilege but also just grooves really hard. Plus it’s got some great harmonies in the middle.
Come On! Feel the Illinoise! — Sufjan Stevens
I’m a sucker for an irregular groove and this guy delivers time and time again. He’s a multi-talented musician and writer with a restless creative spirit. Every album has a different flavour so it was hard to pick one track, but in the end I went for this punchy, wonky groove because of its infectious energy and awesome arrangement.
Bizness — tUnEyArDs
This tune is a masterclass in visceral musicality and joyful impact using fairly stripped back forces. It’s well worth checking out some live performances on YouTube too.
Adjustable Wrench — Michael Torke
This 1987 piece by American composer Michael Torke is harmonically very simple, but builds and transforms it’s basic musical cells in a very satisfying way. You’ll hear a new idea creeping into the foreground to transform the identity of the music for a bit, until something else takes over. By the end you get a feeling that the piece is almost a palindrome, or a Moebius strip, with the process delivering you seamlessly back to the beginning, but in a form that you understand differently having followed the journey. Also, it sounds a lot like the song “Jump” by Van Halen, which is always a good thing in my book.